Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Naked exuberance is a sexy thing. Add music and it's irresistible.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch has been called outrageous, which gives it off-Hollywood cred. The hero/heroine is a child of East Berlin, now travelling America with a band, playing bar venues and seedy clubs, where they are not appreciated. Meanwhile, a baby-faced teenager, who stole Hedwig's songs, has become a megastar.

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Hedwig looks back ("Our apartment was so small, mother made me play in the oven"). When she was a he, life stretched through grey to grey ("The year I was born, the wall went up"). American jazz and a black US sergeant changed everything. An operation, a marriage, an escape.

But the operation was not entirely successful. Something remained. An inch of manhood. And now this diva, born to play Cabaret, if only a Broadway producer had the foresight, is caught between the bewigged splendour of a drag queen and the lonely isolation of a transsexual, who never quite crossed over.

John Cameron Mitchell conceived, wrote and directed the film. It is a triumph of the imagination over a plot that is not really a plot, more an emotional car crash. Certainly, you would be unlikely to come across anything as original for many moons.

Comparisons with The Rocky Horror Picture Show are misplaced. Although camp, as you would expect, it is neither pastiche, nor superficial. Beneath the surface of flamboyant hairstyles and dialogue to match, lies a deeper, more tragic love story.

The music might have leapt fully-fledged from the David Bowie songbook and is certainly too good for these low rent venues. Mitchell plays Hedwig so convincingly that you would never believe he's Texan, born and bred.

The film has a feel of Gunter Grass's Tin Drum. That was the story of a freak of nature, whose spirit would not be broken.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2001
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Hedwig And The Angry Inch packshot
Musical, in which a transsexual punk rocker recounts her life story.
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Director: John Cameron Mitchell

Writer: John Cameron Mitchell

Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Theodore Liscinski, Rob Campbell, Michael Aronov, Andrea Martin, Ben Mayer-Goodman, Alberta Watson, Gene Pyrz

Year: 2000

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

Festivals:

EIFF 2001

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