Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Dir: James Cameron Mitchell. 2001. Starring: James Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor, Andrea Martin. English. Musicals.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a darkly comical rock musical about the trials and tribulations of an East German transsexual songwriter. Growing up behind the Iron Curtain, young Hansel was raised by a cowering G.I. father and a cold-hearted German mother. Once grown, he falls in love with an American soldier, who promises to marry him and take him to the states. The one catch is he has to be a woman to flee the country.

Hansel’s sex change operation is blotched and he becomes “Hedwig,” left with only “an angry inch.” Once free of communism, her husband leaves her and she scrapes by babysitting for a military family. The teenage son, Tommy (Michael Pitt), is enchanted with her and they fall in love. That is until he steals her songs and becomes a superstar known as “Tommy Gnosis.”

Hedwig and her band (also known as “The Angry Inch”) tour the country, playing small venues, shadowing the sold out concerts of her former lover. While on the road, she experiences tension with her current spouse and lead guitarist, Yitzhak (Miriam Shor). He has lived in her shadow too long and craves to become the Diva.

John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus) made his film directorial debut with this twisted tale, based on the musical play written and composed by him and composer Steven Trask (Dreamgirls). Mitchell’s performance as the title character shows great range—a campy, but sympathetic performance and wonderful vocals on the musical numbers.

In one of his earliest roles, Michael Pitt (Funny Games) is well cast as the doe-eyed Tommy. He is perfectly boyish and his arc from a naïve Bible-thumper to a jaded false rock idol is fun to watch.

The costumes are wonderfully campy and although the cinematography and production design are nothing special, it is very successful in transposing the world from stage to screen.

The true strength of the film comes from the beautifully composed and arranged songs by Mitchell and Trask. As a whole, the soundtrack is superb and one of the most unique musicals to hit the silver screen-- highlighted by the tracks “The Origin of Love,” “Wicked Little Town,” and “Midnight Radio.”

If you are fan of musicals with the perverse mentality of John Waters movie, then you will love Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Jul 30, 2008 7:11pm
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