Hedwig and the Angry Inch

"Excellent"

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Review


Following the success of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Off-Broadway and in other major cities comes this colorfully energetic filmed adaptation. Written, directed by, and starring the original, ever-talented John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig delivers the guilty pleasure of entertainment through another's pain.

The brassy title derives from the fact that Hedwig, born Hansel, underwent an unsuccessful sex change operation when marrying an officer to flee an oppressive, still-halved Berlin. His childhood isn't a pretty picture, so it's easy enough to imagine the desperation strong enough to drive him towards accepting the drastic change. Hansel wouldn't have had a problem adapting to womanhood as he considered himself a "girly boy" anyway, but with a one-inch penis and no breasts, his difficulties increase.

Once in America, Hedwig's husband leaves him for another boy. Hedwig gets by with odd jobs and finds solace in American music. Inspired by artists like David Bowie, heard over American Forces Radio while in Germany, Hedwig joins up with a band and writes songs based on his life.

Now it's arguable that someone bitching about their dysfunctional life for an hour and a half could be depressing, boring, or otherwise not worth the bother. But Hedwig is such a charismatic protagonist that this is never an issue. He's high maintenance for anyone in his circle, and even cruel to those most patient with him. On the flipside, he's full of contagious humor and self-sacrifice for his passion, be it people or music. He has an admirable presence whenever he walks in a room, and it's not just because he's in drag.

Sadly, the film lacks some of the emotional intimacy that occurs when watching a live performance. Instead of all the musical numbers occurring over one evening's performance, Hedwig's gigs are spread out through different dives. Each stop is carefully planned to follow the more popular Tommy Gnossis, Hedwig's ex-lover/now-enemy. This only gets monotonous when each audience, excepting the last, have the same drawn, scared look on their faces as Hedwig belts out his unfortunate life story.

The story takes great advantage of the film medium by using animated fantasy images to convey Hedwig's ultimate purpose to find his other half. Flashbacks, normally used in films as easy exposition, give the circumstances of Hedwig's life more weight. It is far more spellbinding to actually see Hansel fall for the officer, and Hedwig's early connection with Tommy, than it is to simply hear about it from painted lips.

Another accomplishment is the film's ability to combine music and a dramatic story on screen. Usually when someone bursts into song in a film, an audience will cower in a corner to cover their ears and watch for facial muscles to relax. But because music is Hedwig's life, and therapy, it is just as pertinent to the story as his daily life and flashbacks. And because the music varies in tempo and lyrical style, it compliments Hedwig's rocky journey.

For a hard knocks story, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an enjoyable ride. You'll either sit back and say "At least my life is better than that," or simply be amazed at how good a musical movie about a half-woman, half-man can be.

The DVD is a perfect match for the film, beautifully presented and with crystal clear sound, and the Hedwig obsessed will find the extras superb. A documentary (only 5 minutes shorter than the film itself) tells the story of Mitchell from child to movie star -- with a large section on the original stage play (with a few shots taken at its premiere). Mitchell and his director of photography provide a feature-length commentary track, and they also offer insights into a handful of deleted scenes. A great disk.

Doin' the time warp.



Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th July 2001

Box Office USA: $1.5M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 97 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Hedwig, as Schlatko, as Phyllis Stein, as Yitzhak, as Skszp, as Jacek, as Krzysztof, as Tommy Gnosis, as Sgt. Luther

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.