Tonight we watched Lewis Gilbert’s 1983 film, Educating Rita, starring Michael Caine, Julie Walters and Maureen Lipman, and which is basically a more complicated version of Willy Russell’s stage play of the same name. Critics considered the complications, or add-ons (mistresses, in-laws, fellow students) as unnecessary distractions from the central relationship between Caine’s drunken professor and Walters’ ambitious Liverpudlian working class student which is at the heart of the story.¬†Caine and Walters are very good and it is perhaps true that if the plot had left out some of the extras they would have had more time to develop their relationship, in which the drunken cynic rediscovers idealism and the starry-eyed working class lass discovers that the middle class she aspires to is not all that it is made out to be. Still, Russell’s witty exchanges keep the story racketing along.¬†(His plot also makes an explicit¬†genuflection to Shaw’s Pygmalion when Walters talks ‘posh’ for a few minutes.) At first, we’re led to feel that Walters’ Rita is the more attractive of the two characters, but at the end she bobs about in uncertainty about where she wants to go and what she wants to be, betrayed by her own blind ambition, whereas Caine’s Frank strides off confidently to his flight to Australia and, by implication, a new, revived life.