hedwig and the angry inch (2002)

by zEke

hedwig and the angry inch posterLet’s be straight, I said it, if you end seeing this movie is either because you know what to expect, or because someone whose taste you trust has recommended it to you. There is little chance for chance here. Thus, me watching it was not chance either, a friend whose taste I trust every now and then recommended it to me and I will not call him back complaining. Is it that good? Yes, and no.

Do you like musicals? That is probably the first question you need to ask yourself. hedwig and the angry inch is by all means a musical. It is based on the off-Broadway homonym musical by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. Guess what? Both Mitchell and Trask are also behind the jump to the big screen. Is that enough? It is if you are down for a rock musical. This is definitely closer to the rocky horror picture show (1975) than the sound of music (1965). Up to the point that if you do not know anything about the former and love the latter you might better do something else.

Hedwig (James Cameron Mitchell) is not Hedwig, he is Hansel, an effeminate boy that lives in East Germany with his mother. He is Hansel until he falls in love with an American soldier and in order to marry him and cross the Atlantic he undergoes a sex change. After being dumped a year later Hedwig forms a rock band with whom he plays cafés and restaurants, and meets Tommy Speek (Michael Pitt), a misunderstood and lost teenager, that will grow into one of Hedwig bitterness sources.

Mitchell tells the story of Hedwig through the songs she sings, leaving small room for dialog and somehow more for Hedwig’s monologues. And the formula works, which is not surprising at all being the songs played in the movie the ones played in the musical, which entirely relies on them. Nevertheless, the writer, director and actor, understands what he is up to and turns his very own pseudo biographical off-Broadway musical into a ninety five minutes long poignant gaudy glamorous music video that smartly flows from one song to the other while delivering a story of true love and adaptation.

Arguably, the origin of love, inspired by Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s symposium, is one of the most beautiful love song ever played in a rock musical. And the visuals do help here. The cartoons that draw the song are simple but deep, and Mitchell as Hedwig is just right. As for Pitt, he looks to me that he does always the same.

Fortunately for many, thirteen are the minutes you need to know if you are going to be part of the cult following or hate it. Probably the best rock musical, or just musical, I have ever experienced on a screen. It is also true that there are not that many.

For the deadhours of those who wonder how they would look like on their sisters’ outfits.

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offcial site | imdb

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