Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director/Writer:John Cameron Mitchell
Fine Line Features; R; 95 minutes
Cast:John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt

Theater fans will be familiar with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for the film began its life as a runaway Off-Broadway hit. John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed, and starred in the film. Imagine Ziggy Stardust reared on 1970s rock and the late '90s Village Voice undertaking a rough-and-tumble cross-country journey with echoes of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Hedwig's story may be more convoluted than that of the other transsexual glam musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hedwig begins life in a divided Berlin as Hansel. A U.S. Army officer spies him on the beach, falls for the impressionable and effeminate young boy, and eventually talks Hansel into a sex change operation so they can marry and return to his Kansas homeland. Bad idea. The operation goes wrong, leaving behind an “angry inch” of manhood. The soldier abandons his new wife for another youth, forcing Hedwig into babysitting and prostitution. Somewhere along the line, Hedwig writes a number of glam-rock hits that another love interest, Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt), steals to catapult himself into fame. Mind you, this is just the first part. There's a desperate American tour where Hedwig and her Slavic backing band perform in a gloomy chain of seafood restaurants, and animated sequences referencing philosophical beliefs about the divided human.

This pop cultural romp serves up heaps of sexual and musical gusto. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is for people who like rock that isn't afraid to rock, and don't mind the presence of an irate transsexual inch. Bursting with rugged flamboyance.