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It's faint praise, but Lewis Gilbert's film could easily have been much worse. The subject—an alcoholic university instructor is revitalized through his relationship with a scrappy, lusty female student from the lower classes—invites the most facile kind of antiintellectualism, just as the project's origins on the London stage suggest the worst kind of British long-windedness and overstudied performances. But Gilbert backs off from both extremes, mustering a bit of thematic complexity and coaching well-scaled, well-felt performances from his two leads, Michael Caine and Julie Walters (though Walters remains a bit too enthralled with the mechanics of her shifting accent). The film doesn't transcend its genre, but it's an honorable achievement within it.

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