Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell
Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Michael Pitt
For Fans Of: Rocky Horror Picture Show, Velvet Goldmine, Spinal Tap
My Rating: 8 out of 10
I have to admit, I only became interested in this movie because of the strange name. What could this possibly be about? After some googling I find out it's a musical from 2001. To be more specific, it's a rock opera about a transgender glam punk singer and her band named 'The Angry Inch'. I am not a massive musicals fan, so clearly this is why I had never heard of this, but i thought I would persevere out of sheer curiosity than anything else.
The opening credits roll and we smash into a song called “Tear Me Down”. Our Heroine Hedwig stands in all her glory, arms raised aloft with a stunning costume. It has giant wings. One of which has written on it, “Yankee’s Go Home”. On the other “With Me”. It's a stunning shot to begin a movie with and I'm pleasantly surprised by how decent this little rock song is too. Ignore the live performance clichés that are a little cheesy. It's a musical about a transgender rock star, you need to expect a little bit of camp.
The film's premise is more than just a band on tour. It's the story of a boy from East Berlin, born as Hansel in the year the Berlin wall went up, and his remarkable transformation into this glam icon. Along the way we get shown the reasons behind why Hansel turned to Hedwig and how we got to present day; a struggling rock group who appear to be playing in poor locations. Like in restaurants where no one is listening and the 9th stage of a festival with one attendee. It's Spinal Tap meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show and you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is be a picture with no substance. But you could not be more wrong.
Credit where it's due, this musical movie packs more punch than you might expect. Filled with an arsenal of great music throughout, you will be rocking along to the songs which perfectly fit the stories around them. A personal favourite depicts the story of the sex change operation which goes wrong and leaves Hedwig with neither cock nor muff, but instead leaves a 1 inch mound of flesh. Ahhhhh!! We now have the reason for the name “The Angry Inch”, and by god the song is glorious.
Despite the madness of the above this film actually manages to depict a great story. Yes it can be sad at times, on the other hand though, it's more about a beautiful love story, searching for acceptance and the quest therein. The on screen romance is between Hedwig and former lover Tommy Gnosis, who left her, pinched songs they co-wrote and became successful off of them, leaving her to fight a battle to reclaim them. And despite the love story which encapsulates you, you are never far away from toe tapping to the music, so it's a nice blend. I know this movie will not be to everyones taste but if you let your guard down, I think you might just be taken in by it's weird and camp nature. It's more than just a musical and shows how important it is to accept the eccentricities of life, its wonderful characters and most of all acceptance of yourself. It was shot in such a way that you can laugh and feel sad all the way through it, and the soundtrack is seriously good. So go watch it, then buy the soundtrack and turn up “Angry Inch” to 11!