The story of Hedwig, a transgender punk/glam rock girl, as she goes on tour.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is a beautiful portrait of a beautifully broken individual doing her best to try to find love, acceptance and meaning in a world where people keep taking advantage of her. It’s a movie that boasts an incredible amount of style, heart, tremendous performances, and some of the catchiest and most meaningful music I’ve heard from a musical in years. The plot of this movie is sad and simple, but it is one that I’m sure will make some people uncomfortable. As this is a Christian site, I will say that the protagonist in this movie is a transgender woman- if that offends you, you don’t need to read any further. But if you can keep an open mind about Hedwig, you’ll see she’s just like you or I. She’s a woman searching for love, and even though she might not be searching in the right places, she is giving her all.
Hedwig was the creation of John Cameron Mitchell, who, coincidentally stars as Hedwig in this movie. John is an outspokenly gay man and an activist for gay rights. I know him primarily from his role in HBO’s Girls, and directing “Rabbit Hole”, “How to Talk To Girls at Parties”, and the slightly infamous “Shortbus”, which I don’t think I will ever see. This film prompted Mitchell’s rise to fame, but though I’d heard about this film, right now it’s actually rather difficult to find; there hasn’t ever been a Blu-Ray release of this movie, but it is now available on Filmstruck.
Mitchell is completely spellbinding as Hedwig; he was born to play this role. Much of this movie hinges on the ability to make Hedwig a believable and sympathetic protagonist. We have to feel sorry for Hedwig or the film wont work at all, and Mitchell is able to do that. Hedwig is very funny, but she also wears her heart on her sleeve; the way Mitchell plays her makes it easy to really want to like her. She’s bizarre enough to grab your attention, but she’s open and honest enough to make you feel for her when she’s down.
Hedwig gets a lot of influence from glam-rock performers like Bowie, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. She dresses in the same way Bowie did during Aladdin Sane and Pinups; lots of flashy colors and glitter. Hedwig also comes from East Berlin, where Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed spent a got into a lot of trouble during the 70s. If you’re a fan of Bowie or Lou (as I am- Bowie is still one of my favorite artists), this film is a wonderful tribute to them, and the lost art of Glam Rock.
Origin of Love
The music is one of the primary reasons to love this movie. This music in this film came from the Broadway musical, so it’s easy to see why it’s catchy. But… I never would’ve thought the music was this good. I watched this film on a Saturday night, and Sunday morning as I took my dog for a walk, I listened to this whole soundtrack twice. It’s Monday morning now, and I’m still listening to it. The music in this film is incredible. I could be a concept album from any one of the glam-rock greats. Some of my favorites from the album are “Origin of Love,” “Tear Me Down,” “Wig in a Box,” and “Sugar Daddy,” but honestly all of them are quality songs. And I don’t mean the songs are just catchy; they’re touching, and insightful, biting, and they also push the plot forward. It pushes the theme that deep down were all the same, looking for love and acceptance.
The following lyrics are from Origin of Love; I’ve linked a video to the song as well, but if this movie sounds like something you would like to see, I encourage you to go in blind. It’s a wonderful movie.
“But I could swear by your expression/ that the pain down in your soul/ was the same as the one down in mine/ that’s the pain/ that cuts a straight line down through the heart/ we call it love (...) It was a cold dark evening such a long time ago/ when by the mighty hand of Jove/ it was a sad story how we became/ lonely two-legged creatures/ it's the story/ the origin of love...”
I loved this movie. I think it’s one of the most beautiful portraits of a broken and searching person I’ve seen in a movie or a musical. It has deep and inspiring songs that stand by themselves as good music, and it’s something so unique and original that I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this.
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