Saturday, 4 August 2007

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Hansel is a young boy growing up in East Berlin. He listens to rock’n’roll on the US Armed Force radio, and then one day he gets his chance to get out. He meets a handsome American sergeant who wants to marry him, but the sergeant insists he must have a sex change first. So Hansel becomes Hedwig, and a rock’n’roll legend is born. Sort of. Hedwig finds herself dumped in a trailer home in Junction City, Kansas, but with her newly formed band, The Angry Inch, she sets off to find fame and fortune. She finds a new love, but Tommy steals her songs and becomes a star. Hedwig just won’t give up, though. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a kind of old-fashioned fantasy musical with post-punk attitude and a very glam-rock sensibility, and it’s fabulous fun. It’s also (thanks to a superb performance by writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell, a performance that manages to be both subtle and over-the-top at exactly the same time), emotionally raw and very moving, and very uplifting. You just can’t help loving Hedwig - even at her nastiest and toughest she’s also touching and vulnerable. The movie using animated sequences to get across its main message – Hedwig’s search for wholeness. S/he is physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually incomplete, but she knows if she keeps searching she’ll find what’s missing, because we all have the potential to be complete. Hedwig and the Angry Inch has its moments of exuberant and joyous high camp, but it combines them with character of emotional complexity and depth. It really is one of those movies that makes you laugh, and cry, and shout for joy. It’s a real musical in that much of the story, and much of the message, is carried by the songs, and it’s a totally irresistible concoction.

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