Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 2001 – dir. John Cameron Michael
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the 2001 motion picture based on the successful off-Broadway musical of the same name, is a rare bird indeed: a stage adaptation that doesn’t fall flat, it has visual verve to spare and feels right at home on the big screen. The colors pop and the music (composed by Stephen Trask) truly rocks. Hedwig is perhaps too wild to be considered a throwback, but there are moments, such as the triumphant sing-along number “Wig in a Box,” when this film gives audiences that same giddy rush that comes from watching the best old Technicolor musicals. It’s one of only a handful of really special movie musicals to come out of the ‘00s, and one of the decade’s most unique films to boot.
It has been said that this film has every western cliché in the repertoire: dance hall floozy who’s a good girl at heart, trusty sidekick, shooting contest with incredible demonstrations of marksmanship, heroic stand by the Calvary, noble but inevitably defeated Indians, climactic shootout for two… even Wyatt Earp. Yet, Casablanca-like, the film gets away with a bevy of stock situations and even stock characters because every performance is so strong. The subtleties of the most subsidiary characters come across in a believable and refreshing way.