BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Dec 11th, 2001 •

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Sometimes I think that I was born too late. I missed Bowie at his best, Iggy at his most audacious, The French Connection, and the French New Wave. My generation’s greater part of movies and music fall into a mainstream that’s simply bullshit. But maybe that’s what the mainstream’s all about. Maybe it’s just a corporate Utopia where safe little movies build big safe homes, and nice bubbly rock buys cute bubbly cars. All of which is accomplished by very safe agreements based on a safe amount of money that teeters on a vast, potentially safe audience: That being entertainments drones that fill our theatres and turn on our radios every day. And don’t nod your head in agreement because there’s a good chance that you’re one of ’em. The odds are against you, believe me. The greatest art has always been the least safe, the most unnerving, and the most reckless. In turn that art is also the most thought-provoking and the most fun. It’s on rare occasions that the mediums of music and film come together to bring us such a decadent delight as John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and The Angry Inch.

The character of Hedwig is such a bizarre composite of sex, emotion, color, and kitch, that if Dr. Frankenstein was a drag queen, and Pat Field’s was his laboratory, Hedwig would’ve been created there. Fronting the band “The Angry Inch,” Hedwig rips into songs that lie somewhere between Ziggy Stardust and ‘Rocky Horror’. Lyrically and visually we are taken on a rock ‘n’ roll journey through Hedwig’s life. We sneak glimpses of his early East Berlin upbringing with his passive, loving mother and his perverted, molesting father. We bear witness to his gay love affair with Luther, an American officer stationed in Berlin. And we are left alone with him in a trailer park in middle America after Luther leaves him high and dry when Hedwig’s sex change operation gets botched.

Neither completely male nor female now, Hedwig sets out in search of his other half. At first it seems to have been found in another sexually ambiguous character named Yitzak. It’s a bittersweet relationship that never seems to really amount to anything but selfish satisfaction surrounded by guilt. But there’s another. Tommy.

Tommy turns out to be Hedwig’s very own Frankenstein. Originally, Tommy was a puzzle of innocence, religion, and rock ‘n’ roll begging to be put together. When Hedwig obliged, he found not only a new romance, but some of himself. Things that Yitzak couldn’t offer. He turned middle America Tommy into Tommy Gnosis, rock god, who would soon claim Hedwig’s songs as his own, stealing the spotlight from pseudo-stardom and giving it the main stage of a sold out tour to shine upon. Throughout Tommy’s tour we join Hedwig on his, as he plays to unsuspecting audiences at various Bridgewater’s (a chain of family style restaraunts) across the nation. Whatever city Tommy plays in, Hedwig’s there playing too, dragging us into each little battle, forcing us to lose ourselves in him as he loses those around him. His exasperation-turned-realization is finally released in a schizophrenic rock medley that closes the film with that chill you had in your chest awaiting the encore at your first rock concert.

With a truly original and witty screenplay, and a soundtrack of what I’d like to call “theatre rock”, Hedwig and The Angry Inch isn’t just for fans of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s for anyone. Especially for those who appreciate a little sincerity in their movies and music these days. Kudos to you Mr. Mitchell. And thank you.

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