Blog free or die hard? That is the essential question that drives this blog to search for meaning (or nonsense). Let us continue, then, with a film about making shoes for drag queens. You know Christa has thoughts about this, esp. as she’s seen this one before, whereas I’ve been slacking on my To Be Watched list lately. And by lately I mean for the past 10+ years.
Where to Watch:
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Lola, a drag queen who helps a struggling Northampton shoe factory find its niche: high-heeled shoes (kinky boots, if you will) for drag queens.
The Uncondensed Version:
Both Lola and Charlie know from a young age what they will be doing. For Lola, it will be performing in drag. Charlie will inherit his family’s shoe factory, a prospect that doesn’t thrill him. In an attempt to dodge his fate, Charlie moves to London with his fiancé to study marketing. Shortly after, he receives the news that his father has passed away and the family business is his.
Charlie is unable to shirk his responsibilities but still feels strange about playing the role of his father in terms of being an authority and role model. The factory has not kept up with the times and seems to (a) have reasonable working conditions, (b) make a fairly high quality product, and (c) care about tradition. This leads to pretty heavy layoffs and low morale in general. As Lauren, one of Charlie’s former employees, points out, what the factory needs is a niche, but what could it be? Spoiler: you already know. If you don’t, please pay at least a little attention.
Charlie’s inspiration comes in the form of Lola, a drag queen he steps in to help when she’s being harassed on the street. Though clearly uncomfortable in her presence, Charlie has a drink with her and realizes her heeled boots have broken because they weren’t designed to support her frame.
For somewhat forced plot reasons, Charlie enlists Lauren’s help in recruiting Lola as a shoe model and designer. Charlie’s fiancé hates the factory and thinks drag queens are unnatural? You don’t say. I wonder if Lauren has a more progressive perspective.
Initially Charlie plans to simply take Lola’s measurements and design a pair of red boots. He really doesn’t want her to visit the factory because he feels his workers won’t be welcoming and he is a bit embarrassed by Lola. Sensing his discomfort, Lola immediately heads to the factory.
Once there, Charlie dramatically reveals the rather sensible boots he’s made, which is quite impressive considering they are burgundy thigh-highs. Lola hates them and insists on a sexy heel. Predictably, many of the factory workers are uncomfortable with Lola’s presence, especially ultra-masculine Don (played by Nick Frost!).
Charlie manages to talk to Lola when she locks herself in the bathroom (which feels incredibly relevant in light of recent awful American legislation [looking at you, North Carolina]). They bond over their broken dreams and shared weight of their fathers’ disapproval.
Lola extends an olive branch to Don by asking him to write things she can do to make her more of a man in his eyes; in exchange, he will do the same for Lola. Additionally, Lola and Charlie regroup and plan to go to Milan with their designs to do some kind of fashion thing (I TRIED really hard to care about shoes/fashion while watching this with varying levels of success).
Everything seems to be going swimmingly. That is, until Charlie gets really insecure and calls Lola the worst of both sexes. Suddenly the team is down a model just before their big premiere in Milan.
Also Charlie’s fiancé dumps him. It’s rather a low point for him, but that’s what happens when you act like a dick.
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
I really enjoyed the beginning of this film but feel it lost steam somewhere along the way. Partly because it was a bit too Charlie-centric when Lola was the more interesting character. Chiwetel Ejiofor is absolutely amazing in this. Joel Edgerton, isn’t bad, esp. when you consider how scary he was in The Great Gatsby. However, he has much less to work with as he plays the sort of stuffy British everyman who is attractive in a reliable sort of way.
As someone who isn’t overly keen about shoes/fashion, I feel a bit of it was lost on me. Definitely worth a watch and I can see how this would make a fucking fabulous musical. Holy shit, I really want to see the musical now.