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and the Angry Inch
Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Written by: John Cameron Mitchell, 
Stephen Trask
Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, whimsical, witty 
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5

Plot synopsis Drag queen Hedwig is a rock-and-roll legend-in-the-making – at least in her own mind, and that of the handful of devoted fans that follow her on her tour of America’s franchised, family-style diners. As she tells the extraordinary story of her life through a series of song and dance numbers, we discover how a boy named Hansel living in East Berlin grew up to become a glamorous rock-chanteuse named Hedwig. At the same time, we learn how Hedwig’s complicated past is tied into her present predicament, as she finds herself embroiled in a bitter lawsuit against rock’s latest darling, Tommy Gnosis, her one-time protégé and former lover.

Review Oscar nomination and media buzz to the contrary, Moulin Rouge was not the best musical to come out last year. John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch proved every bit as visually and musically daring, and a gazillion times more intellectually and emotionally satisfying. It’s so damn fabulous that even if you normally can’t stand movie musicals, you’ll have a hard time resisting Hedwig’s charms. After all, the biggest problem that non-fans have with the genre is that there’s something inherently hokey about the idea of people spontaneously breaking out into song and dance for no reason, but with Hedwig, the singing always makes sense – these characters are, after all, musicians. Even better, the music’s actually pretty good. Still, the songs, the costumes, the sets – as well as they all work, that’s just the superficial stuff. Hedwig’s mighty nice to look at, but it’s got something to say too. Beneath the glitzy surface and the glib humor there’s a certain sweet sincerity that makes you really feel for Hedwig. Part of it is actor (also director/writer) Mitchell’s natural charisma: he brings a real energy to the character of Hedwig – she’s radiant, a force … she takes your breath away. But what’s really amazing is the way Hedwig’s simultaneously larger-than-life, and very real. And maybe that’s because, simplified plot synopsis to the contrary, the story’s not really about gender identity, reducing oneself to a neat little box of either or, an issue which, while very interesting, might be difficult for most people to relate to. Hedwig’s main message is much more universal: it’s a great big valentine to self-acceptance. It’s about finding spiritual wholeness within yourself rather than through others ... a lesson everyone -- male, female, or somewhere in between -- should take to heart. Witty, fun, and moving to boot, Hedwig has it all. —reviewed by Y. Sun

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