Rita (Julie Walters) is an outspoken Cockney hairdresser who at the age of 26 decides to improve her education and enrolls into a University. Actually, her name is Susan, but she thinks Rita sounds better, so she renames herself - after Rita Mae Brown, her currently favorite author, as she explains to the literature professor Frank Bryant (Michael Caine), assigned as her tutor. Frank, a failed poet half-heartedly teaching his class, has a cheating girlfriend and a drinking problem. At first he refuses to teach Rita, then, when she insists, becomes amused with her fresh and naive look at literature. As she makes progress, Frank becomes increasingly more interested, and eventually comes back to life.
This movie is a rare gem, combining comedy, drama, and great character development. I have watched it several times, and it never gets old to me. The transformation of both Rita and Frank is so well done, Michael Caine and Julie Walters are simply marvelous. Caine, I have learned, had gained 30 pounds specifically to play this role, to fit it better. When an actor is that serious about his work, it's got to be good, and it is. Unfortunately, the movie is marred by some strong language. I would love to share this masterpiece with a friend's kids who are into literature, but for this reason I can't. Except for that, it is a great movie, well on its way to becoming a classic, I think.