Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, starring John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Michael Pitt, Stephen Trask and Rob Campbell.
The title of this feisty film relates to matters anatomical and the story of a transgender rock star. Adapted from a critically acclaimed off-Broadway production, it tells the story of a young boy who longs to be a girl and eventually submits to a sex change in order to get married and escape a still divided 1980's Berlin. The op is botched and Hansel, now Hedwig (Cameron Mitchell), is left with an angry reminder of the boy she used to be.
Taking the principles of Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side' to heart, he becomes a she and makes for the US with her new husband. The marriage quickly falls asunder and Hedwig finds herself high, dry and living in a trailer park. Desperate to be adored, she forms a rock band with her new lover/protégé Tommy Gnossis (Pitt). But before long, Tommy also deserts her, steals her songs and becomes a massively successful rock star. She takes her Slavic back-up band on the road playing to bewildered audiences in low-grade diners that happen to be near stadiums Tommy is playing.
Hedwig's life of mall restaurants, tabloid battles and failed romance is told through flashbacks, dream sequences and a smattering of trippy animation collages. 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' echoes 'Spinal Tap' and 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show', but lacks the latter's outrageousness and the comedy of the former. There are funny moments but these are over-shadowed by a prevailing sense of emptiness: Hedwig comes across more as lonely and unfulfilled than a gender-defying rock star.
The songs featured are crazy, frantic rock, the costumes and make-up rival 'Priscilla' and overall this is a strange rock 'n' roll glitter binge that fails to really connect with the viewer. Not as ground-breaking a film as it would like to be, 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' has cult potential but will probably end up on video shop shelves as a quirky, curio piece.