|Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Trolly dolly. Hedwig vamps through another branch of Bilgewater's...
SHADOWS AWARD: BEST ACTOR MUST-SEE
dir-scr John Cameron Mitchell
with John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Alberta Watson, Ben Mayer-Goodman, Rob Campbell, Maurice Dean Wint, Gene Pyrz, Theodore Liscinski, Michael Aronov
release US 20.Jul.01; UK 31.Aug.01
New Line 01/US 1h32
It sounds awful: a story about a guy with a sex change operation gone horribly wrong. But this is easily one of the best films of the year with its audacious humour and a consistently high level of creativity and energy. Born in East Germany as the Berlin Wall is being raised, Hansel (played as a child by Mayer-Goodman, as an adult by Mitchell) is convinced to go under the knife by both his mother (Watson) and his American GI boyfriend (Wint) so he can change his name to Hedwig, get married and move to the States. But once there his man runs off, leaving him alone with his "angry inch" to channel his bitterness into acerbic music (songs by Trask) that tells his story and threatens to make him a star ... until a teenager (Pitt) steals his songs and image.
Not only is the story a complete original, but Mitchell's approach to the material is funny and intelligent, combining fairy tale overtones, smart innuendo and authentic inner emotion. The songs propel the story organically (this is almost a full-blown musical), giving us insight into Hedwig's journey--his anger, romanticism, melancholy, fantasies. It's a moving tale about trying to navigate the chaos of life to find wholeness--identity, inner strength and most of all peace. And as a film it's directed and acted with a huge amount of talent by Mitchell, with subtle, inventive directoral decisions combined with a transparent, touching, bitter, funny performance. Shifting smoothly between comedy, tragedy and satire, the film is assembled impeccably with bits of animation (by Emily Hubley), clever set pieces, revelatory flashbacks and fantastic song sequences. Entertaining, colourful and moving ... this film is a rare thing of edgy beauty and substance in a summer of sheer emptiness.
SEE ALSO THE BRILLIANT MAKING-OF DOCUMENTARY WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT