Hedwig and the Angry Inch | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hedwig and the Angry Inch 

Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell), whose halfhearted, half-assed sex change has at least gotten her out of Berlin, fronts the Angry Inch--a gender-bent band whose bookings at undiscovered nightspots across Middle America coincide unerringly with those of a rock superstar who dumped her years ago and always seems to be playing the stadium next door. Hedwig tells her tale of woe in a series of installments as she performs for a succession of unreceptive on-screen audiences that, by implication, include us. Dramatized with a stylized realism that seems perfectly natural in a musical, Hedwig's saga is accentuated by flashbacks and animated illustrations. Drawing on Plato as freely and righteously as any number of 70s pop icons, she belts out power ballads, coos love songs, turns sarcastic stage patter into aching confession in the blink of an eye, and gradually wins us over. Mitchell, who also directed and wrote the screenplay, originally created this glorious rock opera for the stage with composer-lyricist Stephen Trask, who also contributes vocals. And without an intermediary audience to deflect the reactions of the real one, Hedwig's show is even more reflexive. But in either medium (I was lucky enough to see the Broadway Theatre production starring Nick Garrison), the graceful metaphors and damning psychodrama blow the lid off one of the best-kept secrets in social science and romance. With Trask, Miriam Shor, and Michael Pitt. 93 min. Landmark's Century Centre.

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