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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

John Cameron Mitchell has made a highly entertaining new age Rocky Horror Picture Show as his off-Broadway play Hedwig and the Angry Inch resonates as a stunning rock opera done in cinema verite.

The star and writer-director works a surprising artistic energy into a dazzling production which combines music, flashbacks, and animation.

At the start, Mitchell's Hedwig and his band, the Angry Inch, are stuck touring the country.  With a Farrah Fawcett wig and heavy make-up, Hedwig has legal issues with an ex-lover Tommy Gnossis whose latest hit album consisted of songs which he collaborated on with Tommy.

It's amusing to see the reactions of those watching Hedwig's tantalizing stage work and Mitchell finds a consciousness of reflection as the story of his life is told through music.  A ballad mythologically explains the union of humans, not always physically joined as expected, and the detailed animation from Emily Hubley works in the idea of how a god like Zeus can make us search for our other half.

Many may admire what beauty is up on the screen without the costumes, wigs, and make-up.  And there is a great poignancy once Hedwig has closure with Tommy and the last shot passes on-screen.  There are emotional moments in a film with drag queens that accompany sharply drawn drollness.

You may think, especially if you saw it on stage, that Hedwig couldn't be adapted to the big screen.  However, it works dark subject matter in with farcical scenes, like hearing your favorite glam rockers while your head is in an oven, with sly wit and artistic insight.  From the songs to the production, The Angry Inch is more infectious and involving than Moulin Rouge, as a killer, candy-striped production makes the dreary strip malls and trailer parks stand out, and Mitchell knows he's got a cult fave with this vibrant kaleidoscope of sight and sound.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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