John Cameron Mitchell’s screen version of his rock musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, is an audacious achievement – a swath of glittery eye shadow splashed across mainstream American movie screens. Mitchell wasn’t content to simply bring the fictional story of transgender glam rocker Hedwig Robinson to popular audiences. (I love that most of the “concerts” take place in a chain of middlebrow restaurants.) He was going to make them (us?) like it. And we did, to the tune of $3 million in box office and a Golden Globe nomination. Part of this is due to the charismatic forcefulness of Mitchell’s (nominated) performance as Hedwig, especially when she’s onstage. Just because her songs are about abuse, abandonment and a botched sex-change operation doesn’t mean they can’t be delirious showstoppers, complete with costume changes and fantastic wigs. (The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an obvious influence.) As director, Mitchell shows similar showmanship. At one point the movie kicks open the side of a dreary trailer to form a makeshift stage. Other moments melt into wistful animated sequences that capture – better than anything else in the film – the longing that lies underneath all the pizazz. In its declaration of sexual identity and honest wrestling with what that might mean, Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a good 10 years ahead of the mainstream consciousness. Looking back, it’s probably one of the key films that helped get us there.