Directed by: #JessicaHausner
Written by: #JessicaHausner
“A young girl who commits a murder” is the logline Jessica Hausner created for Lovely Rita.
The titular character, ostracised and bullied by her schoolmates and even her parents, struggles to free herself from her life and when she decides to seduce a bus driver she sets in motion a chain of events that will change everyone’s lives.
Lovely Rita was Jessica Hausner’s first feature film and in the feature it is possible to observe some of her specific characteristics. Here she uses non-professionals, something she would go on doing for most of her films, and she already plays with the paradox and contradiction of having an extremely artificial film but with a documentary tone.
The music and the cinematography in Lovely Rita set the standard for her following films – both of them are individual elements that stand alone in the film. As Hausner would argue, the score’s job is not to emphasise an action or dialogue, rather the music is its own character – it appears in the film when the diegetic moment asks for it (the dancing scene comes to mind here). The cinematography is no different. Martin Gschlacht, the director of photography that has been working with Hausner throughout her career, makes the decision of keeping the images cold and artificial, heightening the impression of the film being manufactured. The choices in camera movement support this impression, not to mention the aforementioned paradox. When choosing a documentary style, the camera movements should be contained, but here Hausner and Gschlacht make rough movements in order to show the audience that they are not trying to reconstruct real life, they are indeed showing a fictional film. Therefore, moments when there are zoom ins and zoom outs do not serve the story, they are almost a pat on the back from Hausner comforting us. This pat on the back is certainly the only time Hausner comforts us as after that she makes sure we are completely lost and in need of guidance. That’s when she withdraws herself and her comfort – we are, then, lost in the lack of logic.
As I have already mentioned in other reviews, Hausner makes bold choices in her films, she allows for her films to cause confusion and she doesn’t try to resolve them. Much like in human beings, there is always something inexplicable and Hausner relishes in that. As a filmmaker she tells a story rather than explain it. In Lovely Rita, Hausner explores a teenage girl who is on the brink of adulthood, in desperate need to release herself from the constraints in her life, be it her parents or the people in her all-girl, Catholic school. As I wrote before, she needs to free herself from the prison she is in, however, with her decisions she jumps straight from one prison to another. Accident or purpose, Hausner and Rita leave us with a big question mark as the credits roll.