The Rachel Papers

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The Rachel Papers
Rachel papers.jpg
Directed by Damian Harris
Produced by Andrew S. Karsch
Written by Damian Harris
Starring Dexter Fletcher
Ione Skye
Jonathan Pryce
James Spader
Music by Chaz Jankel
David Storrs
Cinematography Alex Thompson
Edited by David Martin
Initial Film and Television
Longfellow Pictures
Virgin Films
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • 12 May 1989 (1989-05-12)
Running time
95 mins
Country England
Language English
Box office $201,468 (USA)[1]

The Rachel Papers is a 1989 British film written and directed by Damian Harris, and based on the novel of the same name by Martin Amis. It stars Dexter Fletcher and Ione Skye with Jonathan Pryce, James Spader, Bill Paterson, Jared Harris, Claire Skinner, Lesley Sharp and Michael Gambon in supporting roles.


Nineteen-year-old Charles (Fletcher) is a highly sexed and precociously intelligent teenager about to attend Oxford University. Before he does he intends to use all his charm and intelligence to seduce a beautiful American girl, Rachel (Skye). Charles becomes completely besotted by Rachel, and after numerous rebuffs he eventually forges a friendship with her. Things become complicated, however, and his strategy becomes threatened. Rachel already has a boyfriend, DeForest (Spader); however, he is a control freak who does not treat her particularly well. With help from his sister Jenny (Sharp), his lunatic brother-in-law Norman (Pryce) and best friend and big brother figure/mentor Geoff (Harris), Charles eventually manages to lure Rachel away from DeForest, and his father Gordon (Paterson) is impressed with Charles' new quarry; however, as the unlikely relationship develops, Charles discovers that his seemingly "perfect" woman has numerous dislikeable habits and personality traits, just like all of the other "lesser" girls he has previously seduced. Irritated by some of Rachel's habits, Charles grows bored and is seduced by, and later sleeps with, his old flame Gloria (Skinner), ending his relationship with Rachel, who subsequently moves to New York. Charles still ends up going to Oxford University, but he does not enjoy his life there, feeling that his life is missing something following the end of his relationship with Rachel. She and Charles accidentally meet up again in a museum there and spend the whole day together, but at the end, Rachel kisses him only on the cheek, and leaves. We hear Charles in voiceover saying that he tried to remember William Blake's quotation about love being eternal, so that he could say it to Rachel, but was unable to.


Internationally the film was not a significant commercial success, and in the US was ranked 206 in 1989.[2]


  1. ^ "The Rachel Papers". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "1989 Yearly Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 

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