Let me start off by saying, most of this movie was not what I was expecting at all, and it was wonderful. I was so worried about the cliche of a movie about a transgender woman, but it was so real, and not cheesy at all (at least in terms of sexuality). It was still cheesy in lots of other, good ways. Just as a reminder, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the story of a transgender woman and her botched sex change surgery, trying to achieve stardom while searching for love. Let’s unpack that a little.
For starters, the movie includes a super cool, modern (for 2001) insertion of drawings and visual moving art into the film. The art helps explain several of Hedwig’s songs and personal history through abstract sketches that came in and out of the actual movie scenes incredibly fluidly. This was not something I knew would be part of the film, and I loved how it helped illustrate her earliest memories. They also displayed some of her hardships through these illustrations that definitely came across much more classily and understandably in picture form than they might have if they were just regular scenes in the movie.
The music was definitely also a highlight, if not the best part of the whole film. I really enjoyed the very broad range of emotions and outfits (on both Hedwig and the rest of the band) that accompanied each different song. While they were all rock songs, they still had that element of theater-style music that helps to continue the story, and I thought that was an interesting combination of genres.
The storyline and emotional intensity of the plot absolutely came through, which can be very difficult when adapting to a movie from a live show. Although I think some of the more subtle messages of the storyline of Hedwig’s love life might of gone over my head, I still definitely understood each character’s feelings for each other, and their relationships were often complicated and intriguing. That being said, I definitely did not understand the ending of the movie at all. While I don’t want to spoil it, I will say that it is confusing to say the least. I am not really sure how Hedwig ended up feeling or who she ended up with romantically, if anyone at all. Her turbulent relationships were not always completely clear, and it did feel like I was missing some information, especially on the relationship she had with one of her fellow band members. Perhaps the musical contains more information or more scenes that help to explain what seemed like some plot holes.
In any case, the movie absolutely captured my attention from start to finish, and was definitely one of the ones where I was able to forget about anything except the storyline unfolding. It was an absolutely wacky story, but somehow it totally worked with the characters and actors on screen. It was funny, sad, thought provoking, and engrossing, and now I want to see the musical on Broadway even more than I did before! I would highly recommend this movie for anyone who wants both a unique and provocative watching experience.