Rita White (Julie Walters) is a spunky, 26-year old working class woman who wants to improve her lot. She enrolls in a special Open University class and meets with her tutor, Frank (Michael Caine) once a week to study great literature. Frank, who spends his days in an alcoholic haze, is at first intrigued and later enthralled with the outspoken Rita.
This is a wonderful showcase for the talented Julie Walters, who carries the film on her young and petite shoulders. She is dazzling and thoroughly likeable and every word spoken in her thick Liverpool accent rings honest and true. Caine lets her shine by downplaying Frank, who is hopelessly morose and more than a bit lazy. Both actors were rightly nominated for best acting Oscars.
The inevitable transformation/ improvement of both characters is sweet and uplifting without being overly-sentimental. Walters, best known these days as the matronly Mrs. Weasley, is quite young and attractive and lights up the screen with her charisma. Recommended.