Running Time: 95 mins
Rated: MA 15+
If the USA is any guide, this film will pick up a cult following among our young people. Most viewers should be greatly offended by Hedwig but it is worth knowing what all the fuss is about.
Hedwig (Mitchell) was born in East Berlin and becomes a transsexual so she can marry a US soldier and move home with him. Hedwig falls in love with aspiring rock star Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt). She also wants to to be a rock icon, but Gnosis steals Hedwig's songs and hits the big time. While Tommy plays in large stadia, Hedwig performs in diners. She is coarse, offensive and rude. She meets Tommy in New York and there is a transformation in both of them.
Adapted from an off-Broadway play Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a caustically funny and in-your-face film. The photography is inventive and John Cameron Mitchell is astonishing as the writer, director and star.
As in most modern musicals, Hedwig mimes one rock song after another, making the film feel like a long video clip. As the title suggests this is a very angry film, railing against hypocrisy, US colonialism and disintegration of fidelity. What makes it tough viewing is the brutal way it portrays nihilism and despair. Sadly for us, that's one of the reasons it strikes a chord with some of our young people.
When all seems lost, however, Hedwig discovers the real person under the appalling persona, which is a welcome relief for everyone and a hopeful ending for the film.
Richard Leonard SJ