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The Rachel Papers (1989)

R | | Drama, Romance | 12 May 1989 (USA)
Charles Highway (Dexter Fletcher) is in control of his life; he is about to finish sixth form college and start at Oxford. He is nineteen and wants an "older" woman before he turns twenty. ... See full summary »


Damian Harris


Damian Harris, Martin Amis (novel)
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Dexter Fletcher ... Charles Highway
Ione Skye ... Rachel Noyce
Jonathan Pryce ... Norman
James Spader ... Deforest
Bill Paterson ... Gordon Highway
Michael Gambon ... Doctor Knowd
Lesley Sharp ... Jenny
Jared Harris ... Geoff
Aubrey Morris ... Sir Herbert
Claire Skinner ... Gloria
Nicola Kimber Nicola Kimber ... Vanessa Reynolds
Shirley Anne Field ... Mrs. Seth Smith
Pat Keen Pat Keen ... Mrs. Tauber
Amanda De Cadenet ... Cathy
Gina McKee ... Evonne


Charles Highway (Dexter Fletcher) is in control of his life; he is about to finish sixth form college and start at Oxford. He is nineteen and wants an "older" woman before he turns twenty. Enter the beautiful Rachel Noyce (Ione Skye), and Charles puts his 'master-of-seduction' routines into top gear. Things however get complicated, Charles has a string of exes and a weird brother-in-law. Rachel has a boyfriend named Deforest (James Spader), and Charles' father has a mistress. Written by Matthew Stanfield <mattst@cogs.susx.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She's curious, he's nervous.


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


There is a scene towards the end in which Rachel (Ione Skye) is seen through an aquarium. This was the inspiration for the iconic romantic scene featuring Claire Danes as Juliet in Romeo + Juliet (1996). See more »


Charles Highway: Now, I'm surprisingly ineffective on the telephone so I find there are four basic requirements I need on making the first call. Number 1: visual stimulants. Number 2: other stimulants. Number 3: mood music. And, most importantly, number 4: a tight and effective working script.
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Alternate Versions

The 2003 R1 DVD release features an extended version of the "Electric Moon" love scene which is more explicit than the version on the VHS release. See more »


This Guy's in Love with You
Written by Burt Bacharach (uncredited) and Hal David (uncredited)
Original recording by Burt Bacharach
Re-recorded by Tom Blades
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User Reviews

How do you program love?
4 July 2009 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

This one was an odd, passionate and snappy one, and it's very much more than just a basic teenage love comedy, but it does feel a like a British take on 'Ferris Bueller'. Based on Martin Amis' best seller of the same title, 'The Rachel Papers' is a sensually breezy and topically substantial film adaptation that's poetically told (with plenty of rapid narrative talk to the audience, following the mature progression of our protagonist and cementing a realistic affection between Fletcher and Skye's characters), sharply directed by Damian Harris and terrifically performed by the charmingly gawky Dexter Fletcher, the ravishingly delightful Ione Skye (where she seductively entices the viewer with her beauty) and the scruffy, but useful Jonathan Pryce (who pretty much steals the limelight and well-timed laughs). Also appearing is James Spader, but the role doesn't instill much from him to make an impression. The soundtrack is potent with the time, but the score blends well the drama going on and it's smoothly photographed. A sexy contemporary, but heartfelt feature.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

12 May 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Rachel Papers See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK


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Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Color (Agfacolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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