The Rachel Papers

D: Damian Harris
Virgin/Initial/Longfellow (Andrew Karsch)
UK 1989
95 mins


W: Damian Harris [based on the novel by Martin Amis]
DP: Alex Thomson
Ed: David Martin
Mus: Chaz Jankel & David Storrs

Dexter Fletcher (Charles Highway), Ione Skye (Rachel Noyce), Jonathan Pryce (Norman), James Spader (DeForest), Bill Paterson (Gordon Highway), Michael Gambon (Dr. Knowd), Lesley Sharp (Jenny)

Martin Amis' comedy of manners gets a 1980's makeover for this film adaptation. Charles Highway (Dexter Fletcher) is a college student who fancies himself as a charming Casanova type, challenging himself to seduce an older woman before he sets off to Oxford University. He sets his target on Rachel, an American student with a wealthy boyfriend, and ultimately finds the chase much more fun than the catch.
This is as good an adaptation of Amis' novel as possible, an adult version of Adrian Mole's secret diary if you like, and though the lead character is far too cocksure for his own good, Dexter Fletcher brings a good deal of humour to the role with his quirky narration and knowing looks-to-camera. However, it's the role of his foul-mouthed brother-in-law, played by Jonathan Pryce, that steals the movie, whilst Ione Skye is a natural beauty as Rachel, the object of his desires. The book is a great deal better, but they often are.

Dexter Fletcher & Ione Skye in The Rachel Papers
Dexter Fletcher & Ione Skye in The Rachel Papers