Michael Caine received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Frank Bryant in Educating Rita.
The tutor is Dr. Frank Bryant who is a tired drunkard of a professor, and former poet, the second drunkard poet this year after Tom Conti's Gowan McGland. The difference between Caine's and Conti's performance is that Frank Bryant does not hide his sadness behind a facade of joviality. Caine portrays Bryant's sadness and tiredness always completely at the forefront of his performance.
For about the first half of the entire performance Caine just is a completely tired, and uncaring mess basically. This is completely correct to the character of Bryant though, and does show the whole long past of his character in his face. At the same time though it does not make for a particularly entertaining or interesting character, since for the first half I really found myself caring little about what Caine was doing but entirely what Walters was doing as Rita.
Caine though is allowed more to do although not that much more as his relationship grows with Rita. He slowly shows happiness grow in his face over the success of Rita, and Caine is quite good at doing this in a subtle fashion, but still Caine is not given that much to do to really make his performance into something really interesting unfortuantely.
Caine is allowed more when he shows Bryant sadness over losing his time with Rita, as she basically grows past what he can do for her. Caine is again very good in showing his sadness overwhelm him completely. Caine is good all the way through with his drunk scene as well as his final two talks with Rita showing his feelings. Caine is completely authentic, and these are his most effective scenes without seeming ever to visably "act".
Caine is an actor I will admit that I generally always like, he is the type of actor for me that has to really try to be bad, as I find he is good just normally. He is good all the way though with this performance, and I though he always stayed realistic and honest, I just wish really his character was subjected to mostly be an entirely reactive character. Still this is a good job, and I doubt anyone could have done better with how little he is given at times.