Lovely Rita


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Rita is lost, rather than lovely. She's unpopular at school, nagged at home. She doesn't know what she wants, who she wants, where she wants to be. She's a teenager, without the confidence to be a rebel.

European cinema is going through a period of truth-telling. Realism, for its own sake, is valued higher than sentimentality. Influenced by the Dogme movement in Denmark, audience-friendly devices, such as good cinematography and professional actors, are ignored in favour of honesty and a rough finish.

Rita's character infuses the film. She hates life and probably herself. Feeble attempts at sexual experimentation with a young boy and a bus driver come to nothing. Her parents are more interested in whether she leaves the lid of the toilet down.

Writer/director Jessica Hausner has shot the movie on digital video. It looks as depressing as it feels. Barbara Osika's performance has been described as "beautifully restrained", which is a polite way of saying that she doesn't do much.

Teenage angst is a popular theme. James Dean built a short career on it. The romance of the crazy-mixed-up-kid capitalises on the anguish of the misunderstood, as if to understand someone who doesn't know what they think has psychological value.

Love is all you need. John Lennon said it more succinctly than Hausner does in 80 minutes.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2002
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Teenage angst in a dull town leads to life-threatening acts that cause distress.

Director: Jessica Hausner

Writer: Jessica Hausner

Starring: Barbara Osika, Christoph Bauer, Peter Fiala, Wolfgang Kostal, Karina Brandlmayer

Year: 2001

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Austria/Germany


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