The Angry Inch is her band - a rare rock group named after a lesser member - and Hedwig a naturalised American icon in waiting, an 'internationally ignored song stylist' who used to be Hansel, a slip of an East German boy, before a botched backstreet sex op changed not quite everything. We catch the band in the act, touring suburban salad bars, obsessively tracking one Tommy Gnosis - Rock God, and defendant in Hedwig's forthcoming multi-million dollar plagiarism suit. The set is staged, you might say. Hedwig's performance (and you'd better believe she's never off) is a desperate plea for attention; it's autobiography as frock opera. At least she gives good barb. I love the idea that young Hansel's Berlin home was so cramped his Mütter made him play in the oven. But for a movie about a little prick, there's something monstrously self-aggrandising going on: Hedwig invokes the Berlin Wall as a metaphor for his/her sexual identity crisis, for example, and not the other way round; the relentless narcissism dominates every scene, every self-deprecating one-liner. It's easy to imagine that John Cameron Mitchell's full-on, wigged-in presence more than carried the live show off-Broadway and beyond; but despite the creator/actor/director's energetic efforts, the material never feels comfortable in its new form.
Cast and crew
John Cameron Mitchell