13 October 2009

Educating Rita (starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters)

We first saw the film 'Educating Rita' many years ago - probably the mid 1980s shortly after it was made - in the cinema. I hadn't really thought about buying the DVD, but was pleased to be given it by a family member who had it free from a newspaper in the UK.

Michael Caine stars in this movie as Frank, a heavy drinking university lecturer, who finds his students tedious and arrogant. Into his life comes the lively Rita (Julie Walters). She is an intelligent, free-thinking girl with a traditional, almost caricatured working class background who is determined to study for an Open University degree in order - she hopes - to improve her lot.

Unfortunately, Rita's husband strongly disapproves of her ambitions and wants to keep her just the way he is. Moreover, the other more traditional students don’t know quite what to make of her. During the process of the film Rita goes through some very difficult patches as her marriage starts to fall apart, but through it all she is determined to keep learning about literature.

It’s a classic story on the Cinderella theme; or perhaps, as it’s usually classified, more like story of Pygmalion. The difference being, of course, that Rita is the one who chooses to apply herself to learning, rather than being forced into a mould by someone else.

The acting is excellent, the story entirely believable, and the ending bittersweet. It all looked rather dated; we assumed it was probably made in the 1960s, and were a bit startled to learn that it was produced as recently as 1983.

Definitely recommended. Rated PG in both the UK and USA; probably due to some tense scenes, and the implied drunkenness. However it would probably not interest anyone younger than about ten or eleven, perhaps older still.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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