A portrait of claustrophobic adolescence within the confines of a bourgeois Catholic Austrian family, the 'lovely Rita' of the title appears to be a typical brooding teenager, but there are darker consequences to this seemingly everyday tale. Rita is an only child who displays classic adolescent truculence in response to the strictures of her family and school. Her parents lead a life hidebound by convention and routine socialising with the neighbours, shooting birds for sport, and repeatedly berating Rita for her sullen attitude. There is an uneasy imbalance of power within the family, where the father's unpredictable temper creates an atmosphere of constant tension, and the mother seems to enforce the father's tyrannies with a smile of twisted satisfaction.The low tech production values create a surprisingly effective medium for this bleak exploration of family life. Not the most uplifting viewing experience, but an honest and brave approach at portraying the familiar theme of adolescent alienation in a harsh and realistic light. KR
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