Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy B'day, Chiwetel Ejiofor: Kinky Boots

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 195 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Kinky Boots (2005)
Running time: 107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality and for language
DIRECTOR: Julian Jarrold
WRITERS: Geoff Deane and Tim Firth
PRODUCERS: Nick Barton, Peter Ettedgui, and Suzanne Mackie
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eigil Bryld
EDITOR: Emma E. Hickox

COMEDY/DRAMA/MUSIC

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah-Jane Potts, Nick Frost, Linda Bassett, Jemima Rooper, Robert Pugh, Ewan Hooper, and Stephen Marcus

After inheriting the family business, Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) becomes the fourth generation head of Price and Sons, Ltd., a shoe making company in Northhampton, England. Charlie had other plans – primarily working in London and marrying his fiancé, Nicola Marsden (Jemima Rooper). However, he feels obligated to keep the factory running, but his late father left the business financially insecure. It doesn’t help that the current English footwear market is dominated by cheap imports from Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

When he meets Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a cabaret singer and drag queen in London, Charlie gets the idea of turning Price and Sons into a factory that produces women’s boots that men can wear – kinky boots, and he hires the sassy Lola to design this racy line of boots. However, Lola finds both the factory and Northhampton a difficult fit for him. And on the eve of their trip to Italy for the Milan Shoe Fair, everything starts to fall apart for Charlie.

Inspired by the true story of a traditional men’s footwear factory in Northhamptonshire that turned to making kinky boots for transvestites, Kinky Boots is the kind of British movie in the vein of The Full Monty or Billy Elliot – British indie films that occasionally capture the fancy of American audiences, even the kinds of audiences that normally don’t bother with American independent films. Mixing comedy and drama or pathos and joy, Kinky Boots is basically a feel good movie. The direction isn’t distinctive, but it’s good, and the writing nicely dramatizes what must have been a long, drawn out, and occasionally painful process in real life. None of the characters or actors really stand out… except one.

Since his first leading role in 2002’s Dirty Pretty Things (released in the U.S. in 2003), Chiwetel Ejiofor has worked steadily, proving that he is a gifted actor, in a number of diverse roles and for an eclectic list of directors including Woody Allen (Melinda and Melinda) and Spike Lee (Inside Man). As the drag queen Lola, Ejiofor takes a character that has in recent times become a feel good flick stereotype – the drag queen. He tosses out the drag queen’s cinematic baggage and ignores what other actors have done and goes directly to the character. Ejiofor shows us who Lola truly is, even if it takes us a while to get it, and he does it singing up a storm with joy and gusto.

In one pivotal scene near the end of the film, Edgerton’s Price makes the kind of speech to Lola that, had it been in another film, was meant to change Lola. However, it is Price who needs to prove his mettle, Lola knows who she is because Ejiofor makes it that way. Kinky Boots may not be great, but Ejiofor gives a great performance – the kind that words alone fail to describe. You have to see the man.

6 of 10
B

Saturday, September 9, 2006


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