A while back there was a discussion here about whether Twilight Time had strayed from its original concept of releasing Blu-rays of films which were not exactly in the mainstream. I pointed out that for every As Good as it Gets there was a relatively obscure Twilight Time release such as Mindwarp being issued. I am not sure that the discussion ever led to a consensus, but now Twilight Time has released another rare title, Rita Sue and Bob Too, a sardonic and somewhat disturbing British comedy which grossed only $125,000 at the box office in the United States. It is not for every taste, but it is highly original and will not soon be forgotten by viewers who seek it out.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Run Time: 1 Hr. 33 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayStandard Blu-ray Keep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/08/2014
The Production Rating: 4/5
Rita, Sue and Bob Too opens in a bleak, depressing area on the outskirts of a city somewhere in England. A drunk staggers down the street and enters a run-down building. Then a teenage girl comes out on the street and runs down to the house of her friend, where the front yard is overrun by a motorcycle gang. The girls are Rita (Siobhan Finneran) and Sue (Michelle Holmes), and they are on their way to school. It is clear that they are on a lower rung economically, and life obviously has been difficult for them, but they are a spirited pair. Sue is a feisty sort who does not hesitate to speak her mind. Rita is more reserved but it is clear that she and Sue think alike, even to the point where they finish each other's sentences. Their long-term prospects appear to be grim, but for the time being they are making the best of it.
That evening they have a job babysitting for Bob (George Costigan) and his wife Michelle (Lesley Sharp). Bob and Michelle live in middle class comfort in the suburbs, a significant step up from the dreary neighborhood where the two girls live. While Bob and Michelle are out Rita and Sue watch music videos while bouncing up and down in time to the music while sitting on the sofa. When the adults return Bob offers to drive the girls home. They happily get into the car, but instead of taking them home Bob drives them to a park where he suggests that they have sex with him. This is, of course, shocking and irresponsible behavior on his part, but the biggest shock is that the girls are all for it and even casual about it. The scene is funny but also appalling, although it is intentionally appalling. Rita and Sue are trapped in dead-end lives in conditions which offer little hope for escape. Their existence is devoid of both excitement and prospects. Having sex with Bob does nothing for their prospects, but it does provide them with excitement.
While one would understandably be tempted to place all of the blame on Bob, it becomes apparent that Rita and Sue are actually smarter and worldlier than him. Indeed, his life is just as desperate as theirs, but the difference is that they realize it and he does not. The girls are delightfully irrepressible, and they are funny and spirited. Interestingly, Rita, Sue and Bob Too does not take a clear moral position about the tawdry (and presumably illegal) goings-on, an approach which is likely to leave many viewers with conflicted feelings. The film's anger is aimed at the conditions of deprivation under which girls such as Rita and Sue are forced to live.
Rita, Sue and Bob Too is directed by the late Alan Clarke, who was better-known in Great Britain for his television work. Viewers of Downton Abbey will recognize Siobhan Finneran, who plays Sarah O'Brien in that hit television series. Michelle Holmes is not well-known in the United States but she has enjoyed steady work on television in Great Britain. George Costigan, who does a fine job of playing the irresponsible airhead Bob, also has enjoyed a successful career acting in both films, television and the theater across the pond.
As noted, Rita, Sue and Bob Too most decidedly is not for all tastes. Nevertheless, adventurous viewers will find much of it to be both very funny and highly thought-provoking.
The 1.66:1 1080p image is encoded with the AVC codec and appears to be properly framed. While there is nothing about the transfer to complain about, this is not a demonstration-quality Blu-ray. That is likely due to the Inherent limitations of the original camerawork. The film is not particularly colorful, although the colors which are present appear to be accurate. At times the image is on the soft side and lacks crisp detail. On the other hand, the outdoor scenes look quite good and the transfer is free of damage. There is no evidence of excessive digital tweaking.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD MA 1.0 English soundtrack is obviously limited but is free of distortion or other anomalies. The dialogue is clear, but some of the working-class English accents may be difficult for some viewers to decipher. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles to help out.
Audio Rating: 4/5
There is an isolated music and effects track which highlights the score by composer Michael Kamen.
The only extras on this Blu-ray release are the isolated music and effect track and an informative and entertaining audio commentary by Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Also included is a colorful eight-page booklet which contains a wonderful essay by the always-excellent Julie Kirgo.
I admit that I had never heard of Rita, Sue and Bob Too until I learned that it was being released by Twilight Time. It is a funny, fascinating and sometimes troubling film which will reward those who are in the correct frame of mind and understand what they will be seeing.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Interested readers should go to the Screen Archives website and confirm that copies are still available, as this Blu-ray title is being issued in a limited run of 3,000 copies.
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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