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John Cameron Mitchell is one talented bloke. The idea for this film came firstly in the form of an off-Broadway play until Mitchell decided to transfer it onto the big screen. He carries the load of writing, directing and starring in the flick with aplomb. A cross between Moulin Rouge and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig And The Angry Inch is a surprising hit that will have you sympathising with the characters whilst tapping your feet to the songs well after the show is over.

Movie

Mitchell plays Hedwig, a cross-dressing man-woman hybrid longing after a one-time love who has since moved on to stardom by using the songs they wrote together. Sound bizarre? Well it is, but this feeling is soon lost when we come to realise that these characters are not all that far off the norm in terms of their personal feelings. Poor old Hedwig just wants to get back in touch with his soul mate, although the small matter of a restraining order is somewhat holding him back.

The man in question is Tommy Gnosis, a young-looking rock/punk/goth superstar who has made a living off the pair’s talent for writing hit songs. Hedwig is now consigned to playing with his band, The Angry Inch (hilariously named after Hedwig’s botched sex change operation) in front of smorgasbord restaurants next door to Tommy’s packed stadiums, still clinging to the hope that he will be able to find his true self amongst all his personal confusion. One of the finest moments of the film occurs when Hedwig and Tommy reunite and we see exactly what the pair are feeling regardless of their appearance or sexual preference.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

The narrative style of the film is perfectly suited to making the most out the brilliant songs whilst still maintaining a pretty deep storyline. The monologues by Hedwig are particularly effective in giving us more of an insight into the troubled character he really is, while the musical numbers provide an upbeat, humorous edge to the flick that was needed to steer it away from being just plain depressing. Try and stop yourself from singing along to “Angry Inch” and the rest of the pieces.

The back cover proclaims this film as being “a journey” and, although that might be a little over the top, it’s not all that far off the mark. There are the monologues, animation, flashbacks, punk rock numbers, unconventional sexual undertones and serious heartfelt drama that really do take you through a range of emotions. Most of this is due to the undeniable talent of John Cameron Mitchell who gives a flawless performance of a difficult character. One must wonder how much of Hedwig is actually imbedded in Mitchell himself, such is his effectiveness and realism. To portray a transsexual singer of a band named The Angry Inch who sings about his genetalia is one thing, but to steer away from camp, almost mocking humour is a remarkable achievement. The comedy is there but only in the form of some of the absurd situations Hedwig finds himself in.

If you’re not a fan of anything to do with cross-dressing, transsexuals or punk rock music I would still recommend watching this flick. Surprisingly all these factors take a back seat as the audience is treated to an emotional story filled with some brilliant musical numbers that will have you humming along in no time. Add to this a finale that is quite moving and you’ve got a solid flick that has surprised quite a few people like me along the way. I recommend that you should be surprised by this one too.

Video

The low budget nature of the flick does nothing to tarnish the visuals on this disc. Presented in 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced, all of the colourful sets and costumes are rendered pretty well and sharpness is up to scratch for the most part. Some scenes tend to drift into the softer side and there is some grain visible, but both of these could be due to the film stock or aesthetic choices made by Mitchell and the rest of the production team. Overall a pretty impressive effort that really brings out the best in this colourful flick.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Audio

As with the film, this audio mix is a complete surprise. No one would have though a low-budget film such as this one would be afforded a DTS soundtrack but thankfully the logical choice has been made to give this music-laden flick the sound mix it deserves. Every song sounds brilliant and completely immersive thanks to both the DTS mix and Mitchell’s singing and writing talent. There is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack available but this inevitable lacks the extra punch of the DTS option. Dialogue is clear for the most part, although some of the accents and mumbling do get lost along the way in a few instances. Nevertheless a pretty decent mix that makes those brilliant songs sound so much better.

Extras

Thankfully Roadshow have thrown together a pretty decent extras package to compliment the film. First up is the Commentary Track with John Cameron Mitchell and DOP Frank De Marco. This track was almost essential for the film as we are able to hear Mitchell’s thoughts and information about the movie he basically carried on his shoulders. It’s quite an interesting listen and will please any fan of the film. No silences mean plenty of valuable tidbits on the making of the film are in this track.

Next up is the fantastic Making Of Hedwig documentary. Running for 85 minutes and giving DVD lovers the realistic look which is seriously lacking in film documentaries at the moment, this piece is very informative and entertaining. Various pieces of information about the film including casting, costumes and sets are discussed, lifting this extended featurette into the Magnolia diary category. Film doco makers take note. This is what we want to see.

Also included on the disc is a collection of deleted scenes that, while obvious as to why they weren’t included, are quite interesting to look at. The two scenes run for just over twelve minutes and are a worthy addition to the disc.

Finally there are also filmographies, trailers and a select-a-song option which is pretty self-explanatory. Not a bad little collection overall.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Overall

There isn’t much more to say about this flick except that it came as quite a surprise how effective it actually was. It has “different” subject matter to say the least but still sticks to the fundamentals of an emotional story. John Cameron Mitchell plays Hedwig to perfection and together with his “Angry Inch” buddies provide some brilliant punk rock musical numbers that will stick in your memory for a long time afterwards. For a low budget film this DVD has been given some special treatment with a great visual transfer, a pumping DTS soundtrack and some quality extras to make this a worthy addition to anyone’s collection regardless of whether the subject matter seems more than a little strange. A great surprise of a flick.


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