Nailing my colours to the mast (I'm probably going to regret this)...
My name is Jonathan. And I didn't love Hedwig. There I've said it. I really wanted to love it. I really did. I love musicals. I love Rocky Horror. I love 70s music, I love punk, I love Blondie, I love glam, I love Roxy, I love transsexuals, I love films. But I didn't love this.
Why? Well, for a start it was all so two dimensional. From the 2-D cinematography to the 2-D acting and the 2-D animation - it betrayed it's stage origins at every turn. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing per se, some of my best friends are two dimensional and some of my favourite films are stage musical adaptations. It's just that there seemed to me to be no real depth to the piece. No field of vision if you like. Where was that extra element, that extra dimension that makes you go. "Wow! This is great! What a cool film"? The story went nowhere. The device of telling a narrative in flashback only works if there is some element of surprise or revelation at the end. But there was none. Ultimately it was plotless and indeed pointless. I wasn't engaged by it at all. Christ, I even enjoyed that car wreck of a film we know and love as Velvet Goldmine more!
The characters were flat emotionless vessels that sailed on a sea of androgynous rock clichés. I couldn't bring myself to really care about a single last one of them - apart from maybe Hedwig's wig. Or rather Hedwig's lead wig, I should say, for there were many. That lead wig had a life of its own. It could act the split ends off those other wigs. I see big things for that wig. That wig will go far.
Philip French writing in the Observer says of the film, "It reeks of self-pity disguised as stoicism and has unrealised aspirations to social comment (Hedwig's rise and fall is somehow equated with the Berlin Wall).". And I tend to agree. Hedwig is pretentious. But not in the way he means. It's not pretending to be grand or significant or commenting on society. It's simply pretending to be a good film. Pretending to be a good rock musical film. Which it isn't.
Oh, and don't get me started on that ending. What a mess. What happened? Who cares.
Now you all hate me, let me say what I did like about Hedwig - the songs. The songs saved it for me. The songs were good. The songs were memorable. I liked the songs. Maybe I should have taken Bill's advice and bought the soundtrack first. Then I might have liked it more. Maybe even loved it (?). But I doubt it.
Moulin Rouge is the best musical film of the year. No contest.
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