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Kinky Boots DVD Review

Kinky Boots

September 20, 2006

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

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DVD Review

Kinky Boots (2005) is very much in the tradition of Brassed Off (1996) and The Full Monty (1997): plucky, working class underdogs from a depressed English factory town that learn to think outside the box in order to survive economically – all under the guise of a charming romantic comedy. It’s a sub-genre that’s become one of the most popular exports from England and has drawn criticism from some that these movies dress up the country’s complex social and political problems in a glossy façade. On the contrary, they actually address important issues like racism, intolerance and economic depression in an engaging fashion that reaches more people than an oh-so serious Ken Loach or Mike Leigh film. That’s not to say there isn’t room for both because there is. They each have their place and serve their purpose.

For as long as Charlie Price (Edgerton) can remember his father (Pugh) has manufactured sensible dress shoes for men in Northampton. When he grows up, Charlie is ready to move away with his fiancé (Rooper) and go to school to study marketing but when his father unexpectedly dies, the young man finds himself in charge of the factory. On his first day, Charlie makes a less than stellar impression on his workers and finds out that his father manufactured hundreds of shoes for a company that is no longer in business.

Faced with an uncertain future, Charlie fires 15 of his workers until one of them, a young woman named Lauren (Potts) suggests that they specialize in another kind of footwear. It is this suggestion, coupled with meeting a flamboyant transvestite cabaret singer named Lola (Ejiofor) in London, which provides the much needed spark of inspiration. Charlie decides to manufacture women’s high heel boots like the ones Lola wears. Charlie and Lauren meet Lola and she agrees to be the guinea pig for their first pair of boots. Lola is not impressed and proceeds to help Charlie design a better boot. Naturally, they all work together to make the perfect boots for transvestites.

Is there any role Chiwetel Ejiofor can’t do? He played an ultra polite villain in the science fiction film Serenity (2005), a vicious American gangsta in Four Brothers (2005) and a New York City police detective in Inside Man (2006). When we first meet Lola, Ejiofor plays it very broad but just shy of camp. He resists the urge to become a caricature and brings a lot of dignity to the role. The actor also has wonderful comic timing, pretty much running away with the movie delivering an engaging, heartfelt performance.

Both Charlie and Lola live in the shadow of their respective fathers. They want to live up to their expectations and fear that they won’t. Charlie and Lola ultimately come to realize that they are their own individuals and this liberates them on a personal level and also affects their business. Kinky Boots also espouses a message of homegrown manufactured products instead of farming it out to cheap labour in some third world country but does so in a way that isn’t too obvious while also delivering a thoroughly entertaining story as well.

Special Features:

“The Real Kinky Boots Factory” focuses on the true story behind the movie. It was inspired by an actual factory struggling to make practical shoes that switched to a niche market in order to survive. The real Charlie – Steve Payton – talks about what inspired him. Ejiofor had a blast filming the night club scenes because it allowed him to cut loose. This is a nice look at how the movie came together.

There are four deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Julian Jarrold. One of the factory ladies asks Lola about being a transvestite. Another scene underlines the point about how so much of what we wear is made in other countries and how this affects Charlie’s factory. There is a scene where we learn Lola’s real name and sees him visit his elderly father which is very well acted and should have been kept in.

“Journey of a Brogue” shows how a dress shoe is assembled in a brief montage.

Finally, there is a commentary by Jarrold and actors Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sarah-Jane Potts, Edgerton, a native Australian, recounts how nervous he felt on his first day of filming having to affect a convincing Northampton accent in front of many locals. Jarrold points out that at one point Northampton had over 30 shoe factories and now there are 3-4 left. This is a pretty low key track with Jarrold and Edgerton tending to dominant with the director focusing on the stylistic choices he made

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 89%

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