Julie Walters received her first Oscar nomination her first Oscar nomination for playing Susan/Rita, a young woman who tries to become a better by studying in the British movie, Educating Rita. It's very hard to estimate Walters' chances of winning in 1983. On the one hand, she got the Golden Globe and later a Bafta but she was unknown and British, so I don't think that she got that many votes. However, I know that members of the old Hollywood (Loretta Young, Irene Dunne etc.) loved Educating Rita and I think many of them preferred Walters over MacLaine. I guess Julie was third or fourth.
Educating Rita used to be one of my all-time favorite movies by which I was extremely blown away when I first saw it. And although I'm not that impressed by it now, I still love it very much as it's so deeply human, natural, funny and loveable. I think its screenplay should have won the Oscar. It was much-much better than the one of Terms of Endearment. Educating Rita could have been a very sentimental story but thanks to the workd of the cast and crew, it became just very emotional. Michael Caine gives a very good performance but Duvall is an easy pick for that year (check out Louis' reviews on the year if you haven't).
Julie Walters is an actress whom I really like despite the fact that I haven't seen much of her movies. However, every time when I see her, I am taken over by her warm, radiant presence. She can make movies like Mamma Mia! at least tolerable, plus, (as a minor HP fan) I really like her as Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. I think she was born to play that role. Educating Rita was a kind of breakthrough role for her. Despite her Oscar nomination she did not get as great roles as Rita was.
Rita/Susan is a very interesting character, one that I really love. In general, I love watching inkd-hearted, lovely British working girls who become more fulfilled women by a change in their lives like when Georgy Girl has to raise a baby or when Rita gets a real education that makes her a whole. When we first see her, she's a very funny character who jus wants to be clever and confident. We shouldn't take her seriously and we don't because Walters is absolutely hilarious in those first scenes. Her hairstyle, her walking, her talking are all perfect and extremely funny. I think Michael Caine actually plays the viewer's feelings towards Rita. She' s an uneducated but ambitious woman who doesn't want to get stuck in her old life.
When I was writing about Debra Winger, I said that I wasn't truly satisifed with the way she developed the character of Emma. Well, I cannot say the same about Julie Walters here. The changes that Rita goes through and the way that Walters shows them are simply amazing. I think the way that Julie handled this character should be tought at acting schools. I mean, at the beginning she's a young flower, a bit ugly and green but in the end she's blooming and she's just beautiful.
There are very radical changes in this character that are especially dangerous for the performer. First, when Rita's husband burns her books. The teary, desperate look on Julie's face is heart-breaking and just fantastic. She shows so many emotion. She's both sad and determined and Julie shows it all with her eyes. It's simply amazing. The second one comes at the pub where she should be singing with her family and party and instead she looks at her mother's sad face. Again, a fantastic, wonderful moment.
I think the most beautiful sentence of the movie comes when Rita says that she wants to sing a better song. Such an honest, touching moment. One could accuse the screenplay of being obvious but I don't thinkg so. Rita says everything she feels and she's quite open about everything. Again, the way Julie communicates her feelings is just wonderful.
After that, Rita becomes Susan and everything that she wanted to be. A confident, independant, intelligent woman. The expressions on Julie's face during Maureen Lipman's monologue are just again heartwrenching. We see Rita's (not Susan's) feelings and insecurities coming to surface, something that we last see when Rita doesn't dare to go inside Frank's house. She may not even want this life, or does she? Is she good enough?
Also, the chemistry between Walters and Michael Caine is just excellent. It's a very unlikely Higgins-Doolittle relationship but it works very well. They work fabulously together, always helping the other one and truly supporting each other. It's truly great to look at them when they are together.
This performance is not as popular and talked about as the other ones this of year even though it really should be. Julie Walters gives a fantastic, heartwrenching and very emotional performance as Rita, a girl who just wants to sing a better song. I was really touched by Walters' natural acting, loveable presence and great sense of humor. And the development of Rita is simply terrific.
What do you think?