In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers,
Joaquin (Polo Ravales), an unassuming fisherman, is forced to confront his homosexuality when his sex-starved wife Cynthia (Althea Vega) returns from her overseas job eager to get pregnant.... See full summary »
In a suburb of London, young Jamie is escaping sport hours, to avoid being the victim of his comrades. Young Ste, his neighbor, is beaten by his father, and comes to sleep overnight. They discover new feelings, sleeping in the same bed.
Lonely teenager Marc is secretly in love with Olaf, the cool boy-next-door. He dreams about a relationship with him, and when the two go camping, this dream seems to become reality for Marc... See full summary »
Having failed to break into professional opera in his native Germany (where, as an usher in West Berlin's Deutsche Oper, he would serenade the staff after the 'real' performances were over)... See full summary »
Felix is secretly in love with Ralph. This doesn't seem to be the biggest problem. But Felix is 15 and Ralph his 34 years old soccer coach. They meet every day in an ambush. One day Felix ... See full summary »
Fernando, a.k.a. Fernanda, a 19-year-old Brazilian transvestite, travels to Milan and becomes a prostitute to finance sex-change surgery. Fernanda dreams of becoming a "real" woman, but in ... See full summary »
Ingrid de Souza,
Two friends, Björn and Hampus, decide to move in together. If one ignores the fact that the two men are completely different, theirs is a close relationship. Being in love with your best ... See full summary »
Hedwig, born a boy named Hansel in East Berlin, fell in love with an American G.I. and underwent a sex-change operation in order to marry him and flee to the West. Unfortunately, nothing worked out quite as it was supposed to - years later, Hedwig is leading her rock band on a tour of the U.S., telling her life story through a series of concerts at Bilgewater Inn seafood restaurants. Her tour dates coincide with those of arena-rock star Tommy Gnosis, a wide-eyed boy who once loved Hedwig... but then left with all her songs. Written by
Adapted from an off-Broadway show, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is the end result of 6 years of character and idea evolution by creator John Cameron Mitchell. Equal parts musical, mockumentary, and drama, the film pleases on all levels.
The film's musical numbers are brilliantly crafted and cross several different genres. A country-flavored number, "Sugar Daddy", appears smack-dab in the middle of all the punk and glam rock tunes, daring anyone to doubt the soundtrack's variety. The majority of the songs are catchy and great fun to listen to ("Wig in a Box" even has a karaoke sing-a-long during the second chorus), while staying true to the themes of the movie and Hedwig's life. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig) sings live vocals over a pre-recorded band mix, and this definitely lends more of a live concert feel than if he had simply lip-synched all the songs for the role. The majority of the cast is reunited from the original cast of the "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" play, so fans of the original play who have not seen the movie need not worry about "outsiders" ruining it in transition.
The film's mockumentary nature mainly results from how the songs, being "autobiographical", are preceded by scenes of commentary by Hedwig and a flashback from her life. While the transition from real time to flashback is usually made quite clear, some scenes (particularly the climax, which is a mess trying to piece together) are confusing as to what is real and what is flashback. The rest of the mockumentary comes between musical sequences, during Hedwig's interaction with her manager, band, and showing of mixed feelings towards Tommy Gnosis, an ex-lover who stole all her material for his own album and is now a popular teen idol. Her interactions with husband Yitzhak (who, due to an excellent make-up job and performance by original cast member Miriam Shor, I had no idea was played by a woman until I saw "Like It or Not", a documentary on the film included on the DVD) would have made the list as well, had a vital character-development scene with Yitzhak (the only non-Hedwig flashback in the entire movie) been left in the final cut; as it is, Yitzhak serves only as Hedwig's back-up singer and whipping boy, a much less important character. Most of the film's situations, however, are explained well, via flashback or dialogue, and have well-written gay and transsexual jokes.
Underneath all the humor and the music, however, is the serious theme of feeling spiritually "whole". Hedwig seems to interpret this (through the song "Origin of Love" and some interesting animated vignettes) as through finding love and one's soul-mate. Mitchell, who knows his character better than anyone, gives an amazing performance and is not only able to portray Hedwig's bitchy diva side, but also able to make the audience sympathize with why she acts that way (unlike real-life divas), and how deeply her inner feelings and her failures so far at "becoming whole" through a relationship trouble her.
Having not even the faintest idea of what the film was about other than that it was a musical, I was very pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with Hedwig, and how at the same time it never strayed far from its serious theme. In its journey from a character, to a play, to a movie, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" has won over audiences as well as taken home accolades at Sundance, but has not had much mainstream success (chalk this up to its "controversial" transsexual main character and the popularity of "Moulin Rouge!", an experiment in stylistic over-extravagance, which is bigger and flashier than "Hedwig" due to its grand budget but lacks the sense of "genuine" emotion in the plot). This is quite tragic, because in retrospect, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" was definitely one of 2001's best films.
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