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Overall Rating
4.73

Awesome83.47%
Worth A Look: 10.74%
Average: 1.65%
Pretty Bad: 3.31%
Total Crap: 0.83%

5 reviews, 91 user ratings


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Hedwig and the Angry Inch
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Uncategorizable and unforgettable."
5 stars

“An anatomically incorrect rock odyssey” is how the ads describe 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch,' a gender-bending, rip-snorting psychodramedy with the sound of glam and the soul of punk.

John Cameron Mitchell, the heretofore-obscure character actor who wrote and directed Hedwig and plays the titular diva, first breathed life into Hedwig in various gay clubs, working out a stage persona he would then translate into an off-Broadway rock musical. Hedwig, born Hansel in East Berlin, begins as a young gay man devoutly wishing to flee to America. He meets an American sergeant; they fall in love, but the sergeant can’t leave the country with Hansel unless they’re married, and they can’t get married unless Hansel gets a sex change. After that — well, let the lyrics tell it: “My sex change operation got botched/My guardian angel fell asleep on the watch/Now all I’ve got is a Barbie-doll crotch/I’ve got an angry inch.”

Hedwig is not the story of a true transgendered woman; Hansel seemed comfortable in his skin as a gay man, and did not feel as if he’d been born female in a male shell. What Hansel becomes is a person with a king-hell identity crisis, a neither-nor: neither man nor woman, neither phallic nor vaginal. Hedwig represents the split between genders, a loud wedge driven between them, and Emily Hubley’s trippy flights of animation (Mitchell uses Hubley much the same way Alan Parker used Gerald Scarfe in Pink Floyd — The Wall) point up Hedwig’s essential dividedness. Hedwig even writes a song accounting for herself — “The Origin of Love,” a beautiful ballad drawing on Plato’s Symposium to tell the story of bi-gendered people split asunder by Zeus. The song is a big hit, but unfortunately it’s not a big hit for Hedwig — it’s been stolen by Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt), a trailer-trash kid Hedwig once took under her wing and taught how to rock. Now Tommy is a rock star, and Hedwig and her motley band follow Tommy all over the country, playing mostly-ignored gigs at Bilgewater’s restaurants while Tommy sells out arenas nearby.

The movie tracks Hedwig’s bitter attempts to confront Tommy and get her due acknowledgment while dealing with growing rumbles of mutiny in the band: her guitarist Yitzhak (Miriam Shor), for instance, yearns to be female and ditch the band to try out for a role in Rent. Mitchell keeps this short movie dense and lively, skipping back and forth, slapping any number of extravagant wigs and costumes onto Hedwig, and paying homage to every rock icon from Bowie and Iggy to Lou Reed and Johnny Rotten. The movie occasionally wallows in Hedwig’s angst, but Mitchell is too much the entertainer to bum us out for long; Hedwig’s mournful “Wig in a Box” becomes a giddy sing-along (complete with a bouncing ball surfing over the lyrics), which in turn becomes a punk-rock anthem of empowerment. Anyone who has ever felt discarded, disenfranchised, or just plain dissed will find in Hedwig a lot to hook into.

A phenomenal performer with the prerequisite gay-show-biz sense of irony, Mitchell imbues Hedwig with irrefutable charm even when she’s being heartless. Aside from his tantrummy blasts onstage (or his sidesteps into lascivious almost-country, as in the hilarious “Sugar Daddy”), Mitchell’s finest moments are his quietest, mostly with the recessive Michael Pitt when Hedwig and Tommy are still together. The bit when Hedwig first does Tommy’s makeup while rain patters on the trailer roof is both warming and soothing, and Mitchell has a heartbreaking moment when Tommy accidentally gropes Hedwig and asks what that is between her legs; she says softly, “It’s what I have to work with.” Mitchell also has solid rapport with SCTV alumna Andrea Martin in her best role in too many years, as Hedwig’s amusingly named manager Phyllis Stein.

Hedwig is like a great album with colorful visuals. I own both the original stage recording and the movie soundtrack, and the music works beautifully on its own, like the songs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (by the way, just because both films have stage origins, rock music and a guy in drag doesn’t mean we need to compare Hedwig with Rocky Horror at every opportunity; aside from those superficial likenesses, and the fact that Hedwig the live show has spawned “Hed-Heads” at least as enthusiastic as the Rocky Horror fans, the movies couldn’t be more different in terms of story and tone).

By the end, when Hedwig is stripped of her shell and learns to accept who she/he is — the sublimely Bowie-like “Midnight Radio” puts a seal on this final transformation — Mitchell’s vision comes to fruition. It’s been fun, but eventually we have to deal with the person in the mirror, and work with what we have.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1760&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/15/07 12:37:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/09 Sonja Definitely nothing like RHPS but has its own charm. Refreshing. 4 stars
9/26/08 Timothy Kirkland Well though out movie, great writing. 2 or 3 powerful songs, point on acting 4 stars
9/02/08 pin very well made. great acting. wonderful soundtrack. a sad pleasure. 4 stars
8/24/07 Dark Enchantress great movie! 5 stars
8/23/07 AMT It was crazy, and scary, and appauling, but in an absolutely amazing thought provoking way! 5 stars
3/21/07 James Dunn Sing-a-long fun for all fans of Glam rock! Amazing songs! 5 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday How do I describe how much I loved this movie, especially "What do you think of the pelt?" 5 stars
8/19/06 Verrine The movie, the music & the look were great. 5 stars
6/09/06 Polly-Anne Interesting, alittle trippy at times. Iwant her hair! 5 stars
5/24/06 Billy Death to us part 1 stars
9/19/05 Sam Poignant, bizarre, creative, thought-provoking... on my top 100 movies ever list 5 stars
10/22/04 Linda Perfect!!!! 5 stars
7/20/04 Tina Awesome Music. Loved It!! 5 stars
7/14/04 DM Moving, but not as much plain fun as "Rocky Horror" 4 stars
6/17/04 KT I love this as much as RHPS...and what's wrong with Tim Curry in fishnets? He's hot! 5 stars
6/11/04 tatum The best musically inclined film since "Cabaret" 5 stars
5/15/04 laura an excelant film !!! the best of it's kind !!!!! 5 stars
4/30/04 Jessica Visually and emotionally stunning 5 stars
4/22/04 Kristin Krawczak i would love to see this beautiful woman face to face someday! 5 stars
3/22/04 Leon Wish I had see it in a theater instead of Cable 5 stars
3/06/04 Kelly It's an awesome awesome movie. 5 stars
2/05/04 Pia My Oh how it completed Roskilde festival, with an open screen-show!! great! 5 stars
1/29/04 Darcy brilliant, completely amasing 5 stars
1/25/04 Elena I adore the sarcastic humour and subtle wit of Hedwig's character. ORIGINAL, WONDERFUL FILM 5 stars
12/26/03 Lynda Vick My whole family loved this movie! (Yes, I allowed my teens to watch it with us) 5 stars
11/28/03 Christine THIS MOVIE IS THE BEST!!! IT ROCKS!!! 5 stars
9/25/03 kevin great movie, even greater theatrical musical 5 stars
8/06/03 Lorenz Esguerra Enjoyed it n Sundance! Had to own the DVD! 5 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink This movie fuckin ROCKS!!! 5 stars
3/23/03 the Number Yellow John Cameron Mitchell is brilliant. Words don't describe it. 5 stars
11/01/02 Marla brilliant 4 stars
10/27/02 katty how can you NOT like this?!?!?! 5 stars
10/02/02 Alexa John Cameron Mitchell is a genius. Micael Pitt is beautiful. Miriam Shor is amazing 5 stars
9/20/02 jacintha Absolutely the most wonderful, poignant, thought-provoking movie i have ever seen! 5 stars
9/07/02 Nettie This movie was SO amazing. It's Rocky Horror, Moulin Rouge in a beatiful love story 5 stars
7/24/02 zRebecca All crossdressed people in the film hate their persona. Trans Bashing Gay Movie; no thanks. 4 stars
6/09/02 hum interesting and apealing 4 stars
3/02/02 Unagiboy My favorite pic for 2001. This was the wittiest movie in a long time. 5 stars
2/27/02 natasha the movie about making the movie on the DVD is as good as the film itself 5 stars
2/25/02 KRP This is the best musical in a long time (even beats out Disney musical cartoons) 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Not a well made film. I didn't like the music. 2 stars
2/18/02 Andrew Carden Not Horrible, but Very Weak and Long Movie. 2 stars
2/15/02 rue the whirl i loved it. it was much better than "cats"...i'm going to see it again and again 5 stars
1/31/02 Don Hite Perfect mix of wit, music, and substance. Light-hearted and heart-wrenching at once! 5 stars
12/23/01 tenshi awesome movie!! one of my faves. right up there with rocky horror 5 stars
12/20/01 The Bomb 69 completely original, music was awesome and intrical to the storyline, more dialogue plz 5 stars
12/06/01 Mrs Reaney Will you sleep with me anybody. 5 stars
11/27/01 ^Elendil^ Musicals just don't work for me. 3 stars
11/09/01 Belinda Boring as hell. 2 stars
9/30/01 daniboy this should get nomianated 5 stars
9/26/01 steven The soundtrack was the first cd I bought, instead of downloaded, in a year-year and a half. 5 stars
9/03/01 KCobain Not too impressive. Overblown with too much filler. Doesn't make the grade. 2 stars
9/01/01 Andros Fucking awesome movie. Listening to the soundtrack that kicks ass! 5 stars
8/29/01 Cara The best time I've had at a movie in years. I'm still singing! 5 stars
8/25/01 Jake Overrated. Only mildly entertaining and doesn't mesh well. 3 stars
8/24/01 The Graduate Great music, and really moving. Surprisingly un-campy. See it in the theater! 5 stars
8/23/01 Marce I love Hedwig!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/22/01 Sean Kicks Ass 5 stars
8/21/01 Bridgette Summer Surprise 5 stars
8/18/01 bowie923 Amazing. Compelling, involving story + great music. 5 stars
8/16/01 Dave To say it is a gay Spinal Tap is not doing it enough justice! 5 stars
8/08/01 Vicious Toy/Electric Crotch The fucking summer movie of 2001! 5 stars
8/06/01 Jimmy S Blown Away 5 stars
8/06/01 Lynnette Kinter Amazing, Amazing, Amazing 5 stars
8/04/01 David Steinberg Goodbye to old notions of gender! 5 stars
8/04/01 Sarsi Snapdragon *orgasm* Damn, that was good. 5 stars
8/03/01 Mr. X Great movie, although it is missing some info from the stage production. 5 stars
8/02/01 Nick Romantic My God!!! I haven't been fucked like that since grade school. 5 stars
8/02/01 Greg The best film ever! 5 stars
8/02/01 killer I've been 5 times so far, and I aint quitin anytime soon. 5 stars
8/01/01 Two-Spirit Rock N Roll Queer Heaven.!!! 5 stars
8/01/01 pink addict utter brilliance 5 stars
8/01/01 erin it ROCKS! 5 stars
8/01/01 Wicked Little Sarah Pull your wig off the shelf and see this movie! NOW! 5 stars
8/01/01 jamie dont let the premise make you pre-judge...this has something for everyone! 5 stars
8/01/01 Daniel Hirshleifer Best movie of 2001, hands down! 5 stars
8/01/01 jamie dont let the premise make you pre-judge...this has something for everyone! 5 stars
8/01/01 Anthony No other film like it. Maybe I'm biased. 5 stars
8/01/01 Matthew Harris Havin' a "Barbie Doll crotch" may not be such a bad thing. 5 stars
8/01/01 Derek Martin this movie rules 5 stars
7/31/01 Loretta Jones Wonderful! Don't miss it! 5 stars
7/29/01 Kurt Translated brilliantly from stage to screen! 5 stars
7/28/01 Blubberbot I liked 5 stars
7/27/01 GeorgE McCaul i really liked this movie but RHPS is still #1 in my mind 5 stars
7/26/01 michael lavin Have seen the Manhatan off broadway Hedwig seven time and can't wait for the film version. 5 stars
7/24/01 david Hedwig Rocks!! 5 stars
7/21/01 skye LOVED IT! butiworrythathedwigwillbecomemainstreamandloseitscharm.notforeveryone. 5 stars
7/15/01 ZachF wonderful, best of Sundance 5 stars
5/25/01 Thor-Leo A blast. 5 stars
5/05/01 Irina Alex brilliant music,touching acting 5 stars
5/02/01 BitchGoddess Brilliant, hysterical, priceless, delicious, sarcastic, intimate, not just for gays at all. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Jul-2001 (R)
  DVD: 11-Dec-2001

UK
  17-Aug-2001 (15)

Australia
  01-Nov-2001 (MA)




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