Amos Lassen

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is the story of a transgender East German named Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell). As a young boy, she meets Luther Robinson, an American soldier, in East Berlin, her home. The two fall in love, and decide to marry, which will allow her to leave East Germany. There is a bit of a problem here in that according to German law, a marriage must legally be between a man and a woman, so the two lovers decide that she will have a sex-change operation, which doesn’t entirely succeed, leaving her with a small lump of flesh between her legs; the “Angry Inch”.

A year after getting married and moving to America, Hedwig’s husband leaves her for another man, and the Berlin Wall falls, making her efforts seem for nothing. Hedwig decides to start up a rock band, in which she includes a young boy Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt). The two initially seem to fall in love, before Tommy leaves her and steals all of their material to transform himself into an international rock star.

Hedwig follows him on tour, telling her story to unsuspecting people at diners and cafes that she meets along the way, but  she is never able to interact with him. Years later, working the streets, she runs into Tommy by coincidence, and the two seemingly reconcile.

In a bravura performance, Mitchell plays the androgynous would-be rock star who performs as a woman but hasn’t entirely lost her manhood (“the angry inch”.

We first meet the bitter and catty Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell) performing in the first of a series of dumpy chain seafood restaurants with her pan-Slavic band, The Angry Inch. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is the story of an individual who feels incomplete both physically and emotionally. The sting of multiple romantic betrayals leads her down a dark path where she eventually must find a wholeness from within herself. The audience riding along on this trip is allowed to sit close enough to the action to feel like they’re riding shotgun inside of Hedwig’s head. At this short range, all of her anger, alienation, loneliness, and humor strike hard. There is so much more I can say but I won’t. This is a movie that must be seen and when you do see it, you will realize that it is very special.

Leave a Reply