Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Educating Rita (1983) *****

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 23rd February, 2021

Julie Walters and Michael Caine

Michael Caine takes top billing in this comic drama by Lewis Gilbert, with screenplay by Willy Russell based on his stage play of the same name, and available on BBCiPlayer for the next four weeks. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? But the real joy of this film is the performance put in by Julie Walters as the eponymous Rita (actually Susan). Her transformation from streetwise Brummie hairdresser to sophisticated participant in a summer school in English literature, is appealingly Pygmalionesque, despite the worst efforts of her dipsomaniac Open University tutor, Dr Bryant (Michael Caine). The stately background of Trinity College, Dublin, has a nicely ironic twist, but his behaviour is outrageous even for there. At first in awe of him soon she sees through his weaknesses but her altruism is such that one realises that she is a thoroughly decent young woman. In his drunken haze, Dr Bryant oscillates between his midlife crisis (exacerbated by failed relationships) and his fascination with the new creature that has entered his world. Maureen Lipman has an enjoyable cameo role as an OTT arty landlady, passionate about Mahler. But it is really Julie Walters who makes this a film to remember and cherish. When he heads of Australia, banished for bad behaviour, one has little confidence he will turn his life around. But she has, triumphantly.

One Response to “Educating Rita (1983) *****”

  1. I liked the nicking of the scene from “Lucky Jim” where a lecture deteriorates into chaos becaiuse the lecturer is off his head…

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