Educating Rita

1983

Comedy / Drama

4
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 10774

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Michael Caine as Dr. Frank Bryant
Maureen Lipman as Trish
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
882.55 MB
1280*714
English
NR
25 fps
1hr 50 min
P/S 15 / 38
1.68 GB
1920*1072
English
NR
25 fps
1hr 50 min
P/S 19 / 64

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dr_foreman 10 / 10

singing a better song

What a novel concept - a college movie that isn't about frat parties! Since "Educating Rita" is one of the only movies which explores the true value of schooling, it remains close to this nerd's heart. In fact, in a rather weird conjunction with "Rocky," it inspired me to leave my lousy office job and get a graduate degree - to better meself, as Rita might say.

What are the criticisms here - too long, too stagey, silly synth music? This is not my idea of a slow movie. I like the characters enough to stick with them, even if they aren't...well...moving around much! Surely their personal conflicts are interesting enough to keep me watching, even in the absence of car chases and explosions.

Walters and Caine are likable, the message is empowering (but realistic - Rita really suffers when she tries to change her life), and, just for a change, alcoholism is treated as a serious problem. Is it too sentimental? Well, I always cry. Or at least sniffle. I think that means the movie is moving, rather than sentimental.

Enough defensiveness - this movie is lovely! Where's the American DVD release, then?

Reviewed by James Hitchcock 9 / 10

To Sing a Better Song

Rita White, a young Liverpool hairdresser, enrols on an Open University course to study literature. (This is a scheme in Britain whereby adults can study for a degree at home). In Willie Russell's original stage play, there were only two characters, Rita and her tutor Frank Bryant. The screenplay (also written by Russell) opens up the action to bring in other characters, but Rita and Frank are still very much at the centre.

They are very different. She is intelligent with a sharp wit, but with little formal schooling, whereas he is a highly qualified middle-class academic. She has not enrolled in higher education in her mid-twenties to earn more money or to get a better job, but rather because she believes in education for its own sake. She wants to study literature as a means of self-realisation and as a way of getting a wider perspective on the world. As she puts it, she "wants to sing a better song". In doing so, however, she comes into conflict with her working-class family, who have no sympathy with her intellectual aspirations, and her cheerfully Philistine husband Denny, whose only desire is to start raising a family.

The irony of the film is that Frank possesses what Rita most earnestly desires- learning and culture- but does not appreciate it. In his youth, when he was a published poet, he doubtless shared her ideals, but now in middle age he is a bored, cynical alcoholic. He gave up writing poetry after the breakdown of his marriage and his relationship with his girlfriend Julia is also collapsing. (She is having an affair with one of his colleagues). He turns up drunk to lectures and mocks his students and the university authorities. Although he still earns a living from teaching literature, he has lost his enthusiasm for the subject.

Despite their differences, Rita and Frank become friends, probably because he retains just enough idealism to be touched by her naive enthusiasm. This comes across in the scene where she rushes to tell him of her excitement at seeing a production of "Macbeth" or the one where he introduces her to Blake. Initially Rita has more enthusiasm for the subject than understanding, but she makes good progress, and is eventually able to discuss literature on equal terms with Frank's college students. She becomes a waitress, which gives her more time to study. Her appearance changes; originally a bleached blonde in mini-skirt and high heels she returns to her natural brunette looks and dresses more conservatively. She reverts to her real name, Susan, abandoning "Rita" which she adopted in honour of the writer Rita Mae Brown.

Frank, however, is not happy with the change in her personality. He has become disillusioned with the idea that culture is desirable, and dislikes the way in which the naive but spontaneous and amusing Rita has given way to the more analytical, intellectually aware Susan, whom he sees as pretentious. (He insists on calling her "Rita" even after she has ceased using the name). He accuses himself of being a Frankenstein who has created a monster, and her of singing not a better song, merely a different one which on her lips sounds shrill, hollow and tuneless. This, of course, causes difficulties between them. Susan's success has been achieved at considerable personal cost because her marriage to Denny has collapsed- he burnt her course-books in a fit of rage after discovering that she was taking the Pill in order to delay having children- and she has become estranged from her family, who sided with Denny over the divorce.

If this had been a Hollywood production, it would doubtless have been made as a traditional rom-com, with a happy ending as Frank and Susan fall in love. What we actually have is a film of ideas, with a much more ambiguous ending. The central question is "What is the value of culture and education?" Should one value these things, or question their value as Frank does? Although some reviewers have sympathised with Frank, my sympathies are with Susan; his belittling of her aspirations seems patronising, and there is some justice in her accusations that he liked her better in the early days of their relationship because he was amused by her ignorance and naivety. His apparent disillusionment with his own achievements may reflect not humility but rather a deeper arrogance- the arrogance of the man who mistakes his own cynical nihilism for a higher wisdom.

If that analysis of the film makes it seem very serious, it is not- it is often very funny with some wonderful lines delivered in two great performances by Julie Waters and Michael Caine. (There is also a brilliant, and very memorable, synthesiser score from David Hentschel).

I did not like the sub-plot involving Susan's flatmate Trish, a suicidally depressed culture-vulture, played by Maureen Lipman as an exaggerated caricature. ("Wouldn't you just die without Maaahler?") I also felt an opportunity was lost by filming in Dublin rather than Liverpool. Doubtless the Irish authorities offered a better financial deal, but it meant that the film lacks the authentic sense of place which marks so many of the best British films.

Those reservations apart, however, I loved the film. Its combination of wit, great dialogue, warmth and intellectual depth made it, in my view, easily the best film of 1983. Unfortunately, its chances of winning an Oscar were sabotaged by the fact that the British film industry was going through a brief but brilliant revival in the early eighties and British films- "Chariots of Fire" and "Gandhi"- had achieved the unprecedented feat of winning "Best Picture" in two successive years. A British hat-trick would have been a hurt to American national pride too serious to bear, so "Best Picture" went instead to that horrible tear-jerker "Terms of Endearment". 9/10

Reviewed by budmassey 10 / 10

Shaw would be proud.

What delights me most about this movie is that in early 2006 it finally came out on DVD. There is a minor glitch in the establishing scene at the beginning, but to see Rita once again in widescreen is almost like seeing it for the very first time.

Educating Rita is one of many re-tellings of Shaw's Pygmalion, itself based on a Greek myth, so the story is nothing new. Rita, as so many great British films, is based on a play, in this case by Willie Russell, who also collaborated with director Lewis Gilbert, who, in addition to directing several Bond features, also directed Michael Caine in his Oscar nominated title role in Alfie, on the delightful Shirley Valentine, cast in a similar vein. It would be easy to think of Rita as My Fair Lady without the Marne Nixon voice overs, but that would be, as a classmate of Rita's puts it, facile.

The combination of Michale Caine and Julie Walters is pure magic. Unlike Dudley Moore's lovable drunk, Caine's Frank Bryant is a drunk that is difficult to love, which makes him far more interesting. He wallows, not in self pity, which would be disgusting, but in the infinitely sadder depths of self acceptance and resignation to shortcomings. He is a failed drunken poet who has lost the capacity to feel his own life.

Enter Rita, a hairdresser who wants to learn literary criticism, but more importantly, learn a way out of a life that she feels all too well. From his jaundiced perspective, Frank fears that educating Rita would transform her into just another one of the lifeless women that litter his life, but Rita will not be denied. Gradually, through voracious consumption of the Canon of Western Literature, Rita learns what she believes to be a better song to sing.

But it's not that simple. Rita finds that people, even educated people, in the end, have only themselves to cling to, and Shaw, Blake, Ibsen and Chekov may help fill up the empty moments, but they can't take away the emptiness itself. What does Rita want? Frank? A baby? Her ex-husband? No. What Rita wants is choices, and the freedom to choose among them for herself, and getting there is warm and moving drama that elevates Educating Rita among the absolute best of its era and genre.

David Hentschel's synthesized soundtrack is absolutely wonderful. It is by now so obviously from another era that it allows you to be drawn even more into the film, giving it a more timeless than dated feel. The supporting cast is wonderful, including Michael Williams, who, aside from being Mr. Judi Densch for the last thirty years of his life, also received a Papal knighthood, and classically renowned actress Maureen Lipman who was later awarded a C.B.E. for her work in British theatre.

Ultimately, however, it is the sheer magic of Caine and Walters, no less so than with Harrison and Hepburn in My Fair Lady, that gives Rita the boundless charm, wit, and passion that have made it one of my favorite films of all time.

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