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I hated the 1980s when I lived through them, but looking back from a
distance, it's easier to make sense of them. Rita, Sue and Bob Too is an
exemplary British '80s film. It's not very pretty - Rita and Sue are two
giggling teenage girls, all decked out in white - from their stilletos to
the highlights in Sue's hair. They live on a sink-hole council estate in
Bradford. Bob is "middle-class" in that he lives in sterile private
- all nice lawns and open spaces. But Bob
drops his "h"s too, and wears a gold chain.
The three begin a "relationship" which is based on sex. None of the characters are represented as particularly nice, but instead they're "real". I knew a lot of Ritas and Sues when I was growing up, and the two young actresses who play these parts do a stellar job.
For me, a lot of the humour in the film derives from the depictions of "class" - from Sue's awful drunk father uselessly brandishing a baseball bat, to Bob's wife - clearly only about half a stilleto heel up the social ladder than Rita and Sue, but desperate to be seen to be something better. Her acting is stilted, laughable, awful. But it's supposed to be - the character is acting at being posh - badly. Lines like "Make your own f**king tea" when she's trying to impress and intimidate the girls are wonderfully comic.
I also like the racial slant to the film - the guy who plays Sue's Asian boyfriend is attractive, and presented both sympathetically and unsympathetically at the same time (like most of the lead characters in the film) - at first he's nervous around Sue, but quickly tries to assert control over her. When Sue drops him, he's pathetic again, but this too is only a ruse. I think this film paved the way for later films like "East is East", which reminds me of it a lot.
I also like the depictions of gossipy, interfering neighbours - both from the under-class estate (especially the strange old man who dances in glee at the "street-fight") and the middle-class private housing (the guy who endlessly waters his plants in the garden so he can spy on the events in Bob's house). One of my favourite sequences is when Bob's wife's friend comes to tell her that she's seen Bob with the girls. Her fakey "concern" is shown - not by speech, but by the fact that she is half running to the house: she can't WAIT to tell her news and ruin the relationship. All of this is so cleverly and wittily observed, in a completly understated way.
This is a brilliant film. Put it on your "must-see" list.
Someone has previously posted that this film is about class and social
division which is certainly true and one of the many sub-texts of the
screenplay. It interests me that reaction to this film also seems to be
delineated along class lines and social division. When I've mentioned
film in passing to middle-class types they turn their noses up in horror
say this film is so 'depressing'. In contrast, to anyone from a hum-drum
town anywhere in the British Isles (in my case Ireland) or inner city
working class background, a mention of the film if they've seen it, brings
on a laugh and smiles of recognition of shared experiences.
Hyper-realism may prevail in this film but there are many many reasons to watch it. The most important of which is to be reminded, if one needs reminding, what devastating changes took place during Thatcher's political reign during the 80's. The appalling errosion of social housing and services, and the introduction of the exploitative Youth Training Schemes which paid a pittance to participants. Overcrowded classrooms, and few opportunities to socialise meant teenagers had to make their own fun just like Rita and Sue.
To me no other film evokes the 80's like this film, it always brings me out in tears of laughter as I recognise the characters from my own life. Practically every girl in my home town dressed exactly like Rita and Sue, bare legged and white stillettoed. I can't remember any other film that captures the teenage mischieve-ness and innocence of 80's teenagers. That scene where they go to the museum with the other school girls and exiting onto a cobbled Yorkshire street Sue utters the immortal line: '..she called me a slag so I hit her!, after assaulting a virgin classmate, is a real hoot. For me the funniest scene is when Rita and Sue start giggling in embarassment as Bob and The Wife start having a barny after returning home after a night on the tiles. (N.B. if Rita and Sue have been hired as babysitters how come we never see the kid they're babysitting?)
This film is not depressing. The two main protagonists (Rita and Sue) are finding fun, excitement and adventure (isn't it better to be walking around in cow dung getting fresh air and a 'jump' from the middle class neighbour in a car than loitering around a dreary housing estate?) as an antidote to their hopeless circumstances. They don't feel anymore more victimised than Bob's wife. They maybe poor and working class; but they're getting bonked regularly unlike Bob's missus!
The performances are absolutely sterling, there are no false moves or corny lines. And Lesley Sharp is truly comical as she jumps on Bob's suit and calls him every name under the sun. For me the actor who shines most is Michelle Holmes, and I always love watching her whatever role she's playing ever since seeing her in this film.
I wish the bourgeois critics could put aside their own prejudices and snobberies and see this film for what it really is. A gritty realistic picture of 80's England and a precursor to the highly successful 'Full Monty'. It is also a great heart warming film for adults that was way ahead of its time when it was being made in the mid 80's. Every time I see it I laugh out loud - if you're ever feeling a bit down, watch this film! It will blow the cobwebs away completely, trust me!
As far as I'm concerned this is up there with 'Brief Encounter' as a classic British film. I'm serious!
This was an excellent low-budget film full of strong performances. Set in
the North of England it follows two schoolgirls and a philandering husband
on what appears to be a dirty and sleazy romp. But none of these people
deserve their grim and loveless lives. None of them are "bad" and there
no victims. This is not so much a morality play as an immorality play.
When Bob says that his wife doesn't understand him, he is right. The
"seduction" scene in the back of his car is one of the best ever. With
hindsight, it is impossible to tell who is being seduced.
Made for TV by FilmFour the camerawork reminds me of a soap opera. The scenes are largely drab and impoverished but Rita, Sue and Bob have fun ! When they are together the world seems a better place. The scene at the dance with the terrible 80's party band Black Lace is wonderful, they are having a such a great time and it is in such contrast to their grim reality.
The ending is wonderful.
This is quite a low-key film from Alan Clark. It is a sad, funny, warts-and-all story about social desperation, and how people seek escape and solace from it. George Costigan is excellent as the bored, 'nouveau-riche' husband who gets his kicks from seducing less experienced teenagers. The two girls are wonderfully played and their characterisations are true to life. This is also a film about the 'little' people. Some viewers might be offended by the use of racist language used when referring to Asians, and perhaps even the portrayal of Sue's Pakistani boyfriend as violent, but this is essential to the realistic depiction of working-class life in a decaying inner-city area. The funniest characters are Sue's drunken and obnoxious father, and the nosey parker with the hosepipe who's always got his eye on the strange goings on in the neighbourhood. This film also marked the highest moment of that dreadful party band Black Lace who perform a composition entitled 'Gang Bang'. It is the films bawdiness and honesty that makes 'Rita, Sue and Bob too' a minor classic of the long gone 1980s.
For our American readers
This is West Yorkshire in the 1970's and 80's as it really was.
Do not watch 'The Full Monty' - that film couldn't be more full of rubbish if it came in its own dustbin.
This is Bradford as it was. I've heard arguments where virtually the same script followed in this movie has been used.
If you don't like swearing and rough sex this movie is not for you, though there is no pornography involved here just accurate observation of a society.
Andrea Dunbar's safety was at risk in Bradford when this came out because there were people who thought that the characters were based on them - men who wore white suits may have had a lot of explaining to do to their wives, as locally this film was believed to be spot on accurate.
This is a very funny film - it is also the British working class shown as many of them really are - being part of that group I can vouch that this is so.
8 out of 10
Not bleak at all. I first saw this film at the cinema. I was 16 and
from comparatively affluent Cambridge (UK), I had no idea people lived
such lives. At the time I found the sex scenes surprising for their
realism having been spoiled by Hollywood's romantic handling of it. But
sitting in the cinema with my best friend I remember delighting in the
development of the friendship between the two girls.
So when it came on telly recently I thought I'd give it 10 minutes to see why I'd always remembered it so fondly. I'm glad I did. I think the first reviewer is too used attaching the word bleak to anything "northern" or "realistic". I found it anything but. The film *is* a comment on Thatcher's Britain but although the backdrop to the story is a run-down estate and the characters are financially poor the story is tender, funny and celebratory.
The title shows what the film is about, it's about Rita and Sue, Bob's only an afterthought. Throughout the whole relationship the girls are in control of the hapless Bob who's sex-drive leads to his making some pretty unwise choices, Rita and Sue are his enthusiastic conspirators. The relationship with Bob tests their friendship but it is ultimately made stronger.
The film has some wonderful moments, Sue's father is the most convincing drunk I've ever seen. The end is fantastic, look out for the Union Jack in that great last shot.
Where do i start? I brought my fiancé this DVD because he picked it out
and i have to admit i was dreading watching it because i thought it
would be sh*t, but i stand corrected it's totally funny i couldn't stop
laughing. The story is a married man called Bob seduces the babysitters
Ria and Sue in his car when parked out on the moors resulting in a
hilarious sex scene. The three continue their relationship of casual
sex and good times even though they know the truth will eventually be
As i said comedy is a big part of this film which is mainly from the common accents and swearing from practically the whole cast (especially Kevin, Sue's racist, drunkard dad). Other comedy moments are the old nosey neighbour (Hosepipe Harry) who spends the whole film watering his garden and the dance scene where Bob and the two girls are dancing to a song called "We're having a gang bang!" which is funny just for Rita's dancing (best moment in the film!) although a friend of Bob's wife (Fat F*ckin' Mavis) sees them and tells her leading to a full scale argument with the girls families and the married couple, which has more swearing in the 5 minute scene then a whole series of the Osbournes.
This is a great British film and anyone with a sense of humour will enjoy it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Be warned - if you like Richard Curtis's awfully nice idea of romantic comedies with Hugh Grant being jolly pleasant and frightfully British, then give 'Rita, Sue and Bob Too' a VERY wide berth, because this will make you choke on your cucumber sandwiches. It's a grim and gritty study of British working-class life at its most honest and vulgar, and it never once romanticizes its subjects or loses sight of the truth. Council estate schoolgirls Rita (plain and dowdy, heavy metal biker brothers) and Sue (brassy and busty, alcoholic dad, lazy mum) earn extra pocket-money babysitting for the aspirational, nouveau-riche Bob and his prudish, wannabe-'posh' wife. When Bob takes them up on the moors, cuts the small talk and starts discussing contraceptives with them, you know things are going to get coarse, and they do, with one of the funniest (and most graphic) sex scenes you'll ever witness. The girls see their nocturnal romps with Bob ("His legs weren't half hairy!", just one of dozens of memorable quotes) as nothing more than a bit of fun, whilst Bob sees them as an escape valve for his rampant libido and failing marriage. To call this a comedy of manners would be like calling a Vin Deisel film intelligent, but on a basic, plain-talk level, that's exactly what it is. Bob's house, though expensively decorated and furnished, is in appalling taste, and the scenes where he politely argues with his faux-genteel wife (who obviously considers herself a cut above something as vulgar as sexual intercourse) are reminiscent of Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party'. Sue's parents are hilarious, with the acting honours going to Sue's perma-drunk dad, a wonky-eyed walking slum who's all bluster and no action. The supporting characters, like it or not, are also bang on the money - Black Lace, essentially playing themselves, turn up as a hideous party band, comedian Kulvinder Ghir does a convincing turn as the shy Asian lad who is, by turns, charmingly vulnerable and frighteningly thuggish, Sue's leering, jeering, nosey neighbors are hilarious and the harried schoolteacher (who has to stop a daytrip to an obviously historical village from turning into an all-out riot when Sue picks a fight with a girl who has called her a "slag"!) with his Arthur Askey impersonations - wasted on an ignorant class of no-hopers - is a virtual textbook example of how to get a lot out of a little role. Although this film is hugely offensive, it's also hugely entertaining and will stand as a valuable social document of a tumultuous period of British history - you can take that to the bank!
This is one of my favourite films of all time (it is a "Film Four" production, who have made some of the best low-budget British films over the last 20 years). Andrea Dunbar wrote the stage play which I have also heard on the radio and it was written as a very serious hard-hitting play - completely unlike the film. It is the tale of two schoolgirls who end up sleeping with the man who they baby sit for. "Are we gonna have a jump tonight", is one line that the girls ask of Bob when he is driving them home at the end of the night. It has been said to be shocking to some people, yet I find it totally amusing and entertaining and the whole plot is not much unlike life I witnessed whilst growing up. Just sit back with an open mind, don't judge and it will entertain.
It's not Hugh Grant in some over priced London suburb falling in love with hilarious results, It's not angry young men fighting against an unfair class system, it's not about forbidden homosexual partnerships or a mixing of Indian and British culture. This film shows a snap shot of British working class life as it was (and still is in many cases!). The British film industry's Liberal Elite hate this kind of movie as it attempts to show real people. Not every working class person has a chip on there shoulder! It's packed full of swearing and sex and even a little bit of violence. If you are easily offended don't watch, but if you fancy a realistic Brit flick that doesn't have Hugh Grant in it, then see this.
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