*Warning: If you are squeamish about movies that contain men who dress in women’s clothing, women who dress in men’s clothing, partial nudity, the occasional use of crass language, or just musicals in general…then this movie may not be right for you.
To be honest, I’d heard of this movie but hadn’t watched it until recently due to its frequent comparison to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was a little too campy for my tastes. (Your results may vary.) And the trailer…seemed to confirm my suspicions. However, this movie won many awards and I’d heard a lot of great things about it. I thought I’d give it a shot.
It’s only a movie…right? I’ve got 91 minutes to spare.
First impressions? Seeing Hedwig’s opening performance at the fictional food chain, Bilgewater’s Restaurants, is a bit off-putting. I’ve been to a few drag shows and really enjoyed them. I have watched some talented “queens” and “kings” live onstage. But Hedwig is an unfamiliar, over-the-top character. She seems like a caricature of a drag-queen. She doesn’t feel authentic—not at first. Even the “audience” watching Hedwig’s performance seems disgusted. It’s like we’re all in on the same joke or experience. Hedwig’s music is her redemption. Tear Me Down is an empowering rock ballad that compares bridges and walls, especially poignant in today’s political climate.
And then…thirteen minutes in, we see the first glimpse of Hedwig’s childhood. Hedwig sings The Origin of Love, and I knew that this was a VERY different kind of movie than the one I’d anticipated. By the end of the song, Hedwig’s no longer an alien “thing” I can’t quite identify with. Hedwig is a beautiful person with feelings and a story. Honestly, this song gave me chills! (Click the link for a listen.) John Cameron Mitchell and Miriam Shor‘s voices are filled with so much emotion, I almost cried the first time I heard this song. By the end of this movie, I did cry.
Yes, this movie is campy, but it’s also a new favorite.
Here are 7 Lessons we can all learn from Hedwig and the Angry Inch:
- First impressions aren’t always correct. How many times do we shy away from people who seem “different” from ourselves? When someone looks different from our “norm,” we often make snap-judgments and assume we have NOTHING in common.
- We all just want to be loved. At the end of the day, we all want someone to care about us, to look out for our best interests. We want to feel whole inside.
- Don’t take “candy” from strangers. (Don’t accept opportunities that seem too easy or good to be true.) You might be left with a “trail of rainbow carnage!”
- The people we love can and will disappoint us. Our parents aren’t perfect. Our loved ones aren’t perfect. People may hurt us, either intentionally or not. But at some point, we have to move forward with what we have and stop worrying about perfection.
- Hold onto your dreams. When we are at the lowest point in our lives, it’s easy to fall into dysfunctional patterns or to lash out at the people we care about. It takes real courage to show vulnerability, to admit to our mistakes, to listen to advice, to reinvent ourselves, or to try something new.
- Pay it forward. We’re all hurting. We’re all struggling. We can’t help EVERYONE, but we can make a difference to someone.
- You are a whole person already. Sometimes we get stuck looking outside ourselves, searching for validation. We think we need something or someone else to make us complete. We search for our other half. We look for cosmic signs that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re making the right choices. In reality, we are already complete and whole. We may feel as though life has torn us apart, but every day we have the opportunity to pick up the pieces of our lives and create something beautiful and new.
I’ve been listening to the soundtrack from this movie all week. Love it! Love John Cameron Mitchell voice. This movie would probably be suitable for most older teens and open-minded adults.
This movie left me feeling inspired! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.