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Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Fine Line Features
Official Site
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Producers: Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel
Written by: John Cameron Mitchell
Composer/lyricist: Steven Trask
Cast: John Cameron Mitchell, Maurice Dean Wint, Rob Campbell, Miriam Shor, Theodore Liscinski, Steven Trask, Michael Pitt, Michael Aronov, Alberta Watson, Andrea Martin

Rating: out of 5

Cross-dressing rock opera for all! Witness the heartbreaking tale of Hedwig, who suffers a failed sex-change operation that leaves him with ďan inchĒ and goes on to rock-íní-roll glory. Or thatís the idea. This fun and scandalous tale of Hedwig and his adventures owes much to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and í80s rock videos for inspiration.

Based on the off-Broadway production of the same name, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is a musical with more than one twist. My favorite one is the presentation of the songs. In the traditional (and letís face it, too campy for words) method, characters burst into song whenever the mood strikes them and the orchestra or rock band joins in unseen. In HEDWIG, every song starts as a live performance by either Hedwig or the rock-íní-roll rival who broke his heart, Tommy Gnosis. This leads to exploration of the songís subject matter, Hedwigís life, and neatly ends the flashbacks at the conclusion of the song. Two music video-style performances break up this pattern nicely, once for full-on í80s rock video silliness and once for an animation sequence. The animation sequence, by Emily Hubley, appeared to blow many audience members away with its simplistic style and beauty in the screening I saw at Sundance. I was not impressed, but it didnít take away from the power of the rest of the movie.

The blame for that power lies solidly at the feet of writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell, whose incredibly charismatic portrayal of a cross-dressing East German rock star brought us to our feet in a standing ovation at the filmís end. The strong supporting characters do well to keep up with Mitchellís energy, though none stand out particularly against the glare of Hedwig. I should note that Mitchell also co-composed all of the music (the theatrical album is already available and the movie soundtrack should follow soon) that gives Hedwigís heart a nice beat you can dance to.

Who should you take to this movie? Probably not your mother unless she proudly displays her hippie roots or used to do ROCKY HORROR every weekend in her youth. For anyone else, ask three questions: Like musicals? OK with transvestites? Ready to rock? If they just get two out of three, drag them in to enjoy one of the best new movies of the year.

óReed Oliver

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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