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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Kinky Boots

Possibly the first sure fired Academy Award winning Movie of 2006. Kinky Boots is a movie that does more than just deal with a controversial subject; it does so in such a way that it shows the complete and total triumph of the human spirit. While many may not have heard of the movie, or the stars in the movie, it deserves to be given a view and have success on American soil.

Kinky Boots is the story of a struggling shoe factory in Northamptonshire that has it’s young, unmotivated owner, deciding to make boots for Drag Queens and Transvestites in an attempt to save the factory his family has built for three generations. Not only does he feel some family obligation, he feels an obligation to the employees who have invested their lives for the factory. No matter how many times he has to sack one of his employees, it never feels good and it never gets comfortable. The jobs of those individuals don’t just mean something to the factory workers, but the community of which they live. He also realizes that each individual is just that, an individual where the job loss will affect more than just the factory.

One of the amazing concepts of Kinky Boots is that it adds to the old adage that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The fact that this wonderful story is inspired by a true story, as promoted by the film makers, adds to the spirit of the movie. While the movie was released last year in Britan, it is just now hitting American Soil. Hopefully it finds an audience here, and I believe it will.

Harold Price, played by Robert Pugh, is the father of young Charlie, played by Joel Edgerton. Charlie isn’t that interested in the factory as he is growing up, he is more interested in finding his own niche. He doesn’t express much interest as his dad teaches him lessons about the making of shoes. “Shoes tell you everything you need to know about a person,” his father tells him, and the rest of the factory as Charlie is growing up. “They are usually the first thing you notice about a person.” Harold tells his son. We know Charlie has gone astray when we see him later in life, wearing a pair of white, casual tennis shoes. There is more than allusion when we see a Billboard for Price Shoes stating, “Save Your Soles.” After the death of Charlie’s father, Harold, is he has to leave his perceived dreams to save the factory, in the process, he is out to save not only his factory and family heritage; he is out to save his soul.

This is one of those reviews that I know will have some Christians up in arms. The movie presents that the way Charlie saves the factory, is through the production of boots for Transvestites, Drag Queens or any other male wanting to wear “sexy boots.” Coming to the rescue to help out is Lola, a Drag Queen, played beautifully by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Ejiofor was nominated the British Award for Independent Films Best Actor. In really more of a supporting role the actor could be a shoe in, (pun intended) if considered for the American Supporting Role honor. The relationship that develops between Lola, and the other characters is the strength of the story. The conflict portrayed isn’t just between Lola and the blue collar factory workers at Price though. Lola has her own demons to face and her own battles of accepting herself.

The story of Kinky Boots is really more than a movie about catering to the Drag Queen, Transvestite Industry. It is a story about overcoming obstacles and finding ones self. It is a story of learning to stand before you can walk, and coming to grips with accepting the unique differences about oneself. I know that many Christians will have issue with this, as in many situations they should. That being said, the beautiful concept of genuinely caring for other people, making sacrifices for them is portrayed extremely well in this film. The struggle of coming to ones own self identity is beautifully portrayed. The struggle is portrayed in such a way the viewer finds themselves inspecting their own lives.

In Kinky boots we see characters with initial perceptions change when they get to know the individuals they have been critical of. We see this no better than in the relationship between Lola and factory worker, Don, played wonderfully by Nick Frost, possibly known best for his fun portrayal of Ed in Shaun of the Dead. I have to admit, I love the chemistry of these two when they are on screen together. It has received little mention and it is a shame, the conflict between the two as the story progresses is as much a part of the underlying theme of Kinky Boots as anything else put on screen.

The ability of one person to sacrifice for the other, and then a relationship be built where one would have never expected is beautiful. It is done beautifully in Kinky Boots as we see the full expression of lust, offense, anger, revenge, anger, forgiveness, and ultimately acceptance. It is at the point where forgiveness takes place that we see the beauty of what can happen and the life changing events which can occur. I challenge, that it is at this point that we see the ultimate salvation of the Price Factory in Kinky Boots. It is also the place where we see the salvation of the soles, or souls if you will. It is a shame, that in all of the reviews I have seen on this movie, no other reviewer has picked up on this point. It is a life lesson that we can all learn from, even if a relationship between a blue collar, hard working bloke like Don and a cross dressing, Drag Queen, like Lola.

From top to bottom, one of the things that make Kinky Boots such a wonderful film is the strength of the actors involved, and the wonderful storytelling. We actually care about the characters, even those who are different than we. We see the strength of the human spirit and the ability to change. While billed as a comedy, I believe individuals going to the theater for this purpose are going to be disappointed. While it is true there are comedic moments, the direction of the film never lets us forget about the people involved in the experience. It is one of the beautiful things about this movie; it is not driven by laughter, but by story. As a result, the laughter and joy we experience is laughter and joy we experience, not react to.

On a side note, there are plot holes in Kinky Boots, that didn’t affect me so much though. It don’t bother me so much as to the speculation as to what ended up happening to the factory in real life. I have read it actually shut down but can’t get clarity on that point. When doing some research I saw the actual factory owner the story is based off of, Steve Pateman is in the exotic clothing business and is now doing other exotic wear other than Kinky Boots for men. Even that doesn’t bother me; the story and film stand alone as a wonderful work of art, with valuable life lessons. Lessons anyone can learn from, if they allow themselves.

Yep, there is salvation for the sole/soul offered in Kinky Boots. While not necessarily in a way we will agree with, certainly the ammunition to load our thoughts and abilities and then fire away has been provided. Ammunition has been provided where we can fire away with the power of acceptance, love, forgiveness, and sacrifice. While one may not like the particular characters in the movie, I did, we can think of other examples to replace them. Even a out of the box thinking Jewish Carpenter who was willing to love those unlovable, and make the ultimate sacrifice of love to bring people to the place of acceptance. Not just acceptance from others, but acceptance of themselves.

On a scale of 1-10 I loved this movie. I give a very heartwarming, 9

1 Comments:

Anonymous Cath said...

I've only recently seen 'Kinky Boots' and was really drawn to the relationships that were developed in the film. I think your review is the best (and I've read a few since seeing the film) because you've really gone to heart of it - a film that encourages you to 'change your mind' about what you might think about others and yourself. Thank you for your insight.
An Aussie Christian who isn't at all offended by what you've written and in fact agrees 100%.

8:16 AM

 

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