Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Written by:John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Theodore Liscinski
Released: November 1, 2001
Grade: A-

Not so long ago, musicals were the linchpin of American filmmaking.  Times have changed and in the modern era, musicals have are limited to animated Disney flicks.  Every film should be judged on its merit but is it any surprise that two of the year’s most well reviewed movies, Moulin Rouge and Hedwig And The Angry Inch, bring back memories of those great musicals from yesteryear.

Hedwig is a vibrant transsexual singer and together with his band, The Angry Inch, he plays in sickly clubs and restaurants to small and disinterested audiences.  The opening half of the film introduces us to Hedwig’s inventive musical stylings.  The film is based on the stage play written by John Cameron Mitchell and friend Stephen Trask.  Viewer discretion is advised but anyone with an open mind will openly laugh at some of these songs.  Just wait till you find out about the Angry Inch really means.

The second half of the film changes tone as we learn about Hedwig and his relationship with young rock star Tommy Gnosis (Pitt).  We’re given early clues to the story but we soon learn how the struggling Hedwig came to be associated with one of music’s most successful icons.  Hedwig and Tommy were once close and performed together in clubs.  But then Tommy found fame, stole Hedwig’s songs and was never heard from again.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch is a fantastically touching, funny musical that stands out in a year of lifeless releases.  Mitchell not only co-wrote the play (which was performed off-Broadway for over two years), he wrote the screenplay for the film, took on the challenge as director, and plays the feature role of Hedwig.  His creative style, illustrated perfectly by the film’s title, will undoubtedly leave many dazzled with an equal number distressed.

The film has been called the next Rocky Horror Picture Show but Hedwig will show that times have changed.  Whilst the clothes may still be the same, the humour is discerningly different.  So let me close with a line from the mouth of Hedwig himself - “when I think about all the people that I have come upon in my travels, I have to think about all the people that have come upon me.”