Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Rock Musical  |   Release Date - Jul 20, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Clark

A mixed-bag effort to translate John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's ambitious rock musical to the screen, this remains a worthwhile movie experience on any account, successfully opening up its heartfelt, often sad account of an "internationally ignored" rock singer suffering from a botched sex change operation. Mitchell's fierce, hypnotic performance is as indelible on film as it was on-stage -- fearful, hilarious, and moving. His direction is a bit less remarkable, as the movie offers much to look at, but little of it comes through in quite the same way as the music. The filmmakers too often literalize what should be expressed musically, which robs the viewer of some of the discoveries that might have made the film more successful. A few stretches sag as well, but the movie springs to life the most in its final reel -- when the title character takes on a young protégé (a quietly effective Michael Pitt) -- even if it fails to fully reach its emotional mark. Audiences at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival clearly found Hedwig refreshing: it won the Audience Award as well as a Grand Jury directing prize for Mitchell.