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Posted on 6/14/04 11:12 AM
Hedwig and the Angry Inch marks, as far as I've seen and I've looked a bit, a turning point in what gets called "gay film". Previous films in this vein have been entertaining and had a certain charm and a somewhat poignant message about acceptance. The Birdcage focused on acceptance of people who are different, Torch Song was more about acceptance of the hardships of gay life, and subsequent projects (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo, et al) in this genre have celebrated The Individual - the humor, the sensitivity/vulnerability and the style of "royalty". Consistently though, they focus on interpersonal relationships that are largely peculiar to the gay lifestyle.
That's the corner that Hedwig... turns. It's not about being gay. This is a story about self-acceptance.... about healing, and self-knowledge. It operates on a much deeper level than one expects. John Cameron Mitchell has given us a story about recapturing that which was lost - his own manhood, love of self. It's a fun ride, don't get me wrong. The music is awesome. I downloaded most of the soundtrack while watching the movie a second time. Visually, it's fun to look at - Hedwig's outrageousness is a given, but the film is also nicely peppered with symbolism, with cool animation and with glimses of true human beauty. I speak of Michael Pitt's lips. mrow.
Seen once, this movie is a fun, funny, charming musical ride. On second viewing, I got even more out of it, as the symbolism of Hedwig's persuit of Tommy gelled for me. There are hints, in the writing and the photography, that Tommy is a part of Hedwig that he needs to understand... and have understanding from... in order to be whole. Seeing that happen is unexpectedly moving.
On a final note, I am pretty awed by John Cameron Mitchell, as his on-screen performance was fucking brilliant, and as writer/director, the supportive symbolism all came from his fertile little brain as well. I am already looking forward to his next directorial effort: Short Bus, in pre-production at this writing. IMDB says it's an exploration of relationships, through gender, art, other stuff... This I've gotta see!