In London, the twenty-seven year-old hairdresser Rita decides to complete her basic education before having children as desired by her husband Denny. She joins the literature course in an ...
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A shy reclusive lady is convinced by an invisible entity to sing. Subsequently, she finds herself noticed by a sleazy talent agent and her talent being showcased on-stage. She also meets a kind but nervous man who becomes her best friend.
Shirley's a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband's chip'n'egg, wondering what happened to her life. She compares scenes in ... See full summary »
In London, the twenty-seven year-old hairdresser Rita decides to complete her basic education before having children as desired by her husband Denny. She joins the literature course in an open university and has tutorial with the middle-aged Dr. Frank Bryant that is an alcoholic and deluded professor from the upper-class without self-esteem. Frank lives with the also Professor Julia and they have a loveless relationship; Julia has a love affair with the dean Brian. The amusing Rita gives motivation to Frank to prepare her for the exams to join the university while she leaves Denny and moves to the house of the waitress Trish, who loves Gustav Mahler and is a cult woman. Will she succeed in the exams? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Frank Bryant is a professor of literature. And Rita is his newest student. A hairdresser who thinks Macbeth runs the local pub. And Hamlet is a plate of eggs with cheese. He's a failed writer who has given up on his life. She's determined to change hers by getting an education. And the more she loves to learn. The more he learns how to love. See more »
At the train station, there is an unusual black rectangle above the word "Platform" on the platform sign hanging from the ceiling. Its purpose is to cover up the Irish (Gaelic) word "Árdán", which would have been out of place in an English railway station. A slightly different tactic was employed in another scene showing a double-decker bus. Its destination is listed as Beaumont, a real suburb of Dublin. It was most likely chosen partly as a could-be-anywhere sort of name, but mostly because practically every other destination on a Dublin bus is listed bilingually. See more »
In the sequence leading up to Frank telling Rita that he is an appalling teacher, the way Rita holds the mug of whiskey changes. See more »
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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