Kinky Boots was directed by Julian Jarrold who directed The Girl (2012) and Becoming Jane (2007) these films are comedy, dramas. Kinky Boots has a knight and shinning armour rescue narrative, however, the knight happens to be a drag queen named Lola. Charlie Price inherited his fathers shoe factory and is responsible for people’s jobs and livelihoods. However, the factory is failing, Charlie needs to diversify his products if he wants to keep the company going. The main purpose of the film is to capture the different types of people in society, lower working class and the hidden culture of drag queens.
Lola is a flamboyant drag queen cabaret singer, Charlie’s meet cute with Lola consists of a mugging and getting hit by red heeled shoe. Their meeting transcends to a conversation about how Lola’s shoes break on him. This gives Charlie the idea of creating men’s fetish footwear. Lola is the endorser and designer for these unorthodox shoes. The main themes of the film are a struggle with the prejudice loyal staff, Lola’s discomfort in a small towns closed mind and the selfish manipulation of Charlie’s fiancés greed, not believing in his dream. The main motifs that motivate this film are the beliefs in a dream, life’s struggles and discomforts.
Joel Edgerton plays Charlie; he starred in such films as Warrior (2011), The Great Gatsby (2013) and The Thing (2011). Joel Edgerton was nominated for 8 awards, including Best Supporting Actor in The Great Gatsby (2013). The character he portrays in Kinky Boots is a desperate man fighting to keep his father’s legacy alive. He also is emasculated by society and conforming to his fiancés needs. As well as his new idea being androgenise and morally confusing. Joel’s performance presents this perfectly, his facial expressions and hand twitches expose the rawness of the characters emotions.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Lola, he is known for his performances in 12 Years a Slave (2013), Children of Men (2006) and American Gangster (2007). 12 Years a Slave is his most prestigious work, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. The contrast in characters shows the talent that Ejiofor presents, an outstanding performance as a slave and a drag queen cabaret singer. Lola is shown to have a troublesome childhood with a father who would not accept him for wanting to dress like a lady. This is Lola’s main character motivation, he needs to be accepted, and the scene where she is living in Charlie’s town, meeting the factories staff, shows her depression and struggle with who she is and what society wants her to conform to.
Sarah Jane Potts plays Lauren, Charlie’s simmering romance and trust with Lauren starts when he realises she is not like ordinary women conforming to Wolverhampton. She is the helper, to the narrative, guiding him to his true self, the person he is meant to be. The person who derails this is Jemima Rooper, who plays Charlie’s fiancé, greedy and selfish, too busy trying to aim big to appreciate the ambitions and personality of Charlie, especially his small factory legacy. The films narrative has Lauren, the helper, but also Don, played by Nick Frost, he works against the narrative, causing struggles for Charlie but especially Lola, as Don is a very macho British man.
The film works to draw similarities between Charlie and Lola’s parental problems helping to show the friendship and relationship with British, good natured humour and character types. The drag club scenes bring colour and excitement that contrasts with that of factory life, it shows British sense of hardship and community prevailing. The film works as an emotional feel good comedy but it is more of an emotional drama than anything else. The scene that presents this style the most is the opening scene.
I believe this to be the most important scene in terms of narrative and performance motivation, the start of the film with Lola as a child shows the drama genre of the film. She is seen to be cold, outside Clacton Pier, looking in on her father. Music is playing and slowly becomes louder, non-diegetic and overwhelming the scene, as Lola begins to dance in high-heeled shoes. The music stops when the father knocks on the window, in anger, shocking the audience out of the beautiful trance like state that was created. This could be a metaphor for the films overall narrative state, it tries to break free from stereotypical British films by being original, yet people broke the trance by not truly appreciating the beauty of the film. Showing the inner struggles ordinary people have either with unemployment, bankruptcy or drag.
However, to contrast this sad sense of drama and life that Kinky Boots takes on are the drag-club scenes that as I have mentioned earlier, they are bright, colourful, theatrical and humorous. Scenes such as when Charlie is introducing Lauren to Lola and she performs. The costumes are bright, the music joyful, the setting is flamboyant representing Lola’s passion and joy being who she is- a drag queen. A perfect quote of these themes of passion, happiness and comedy is during the making process of the transvestite shoes, Lola says “Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy. Red. Red. *Red*. *Red*, Charlie boy. *Red*! Is the colour of sex!”
Lola’s character performance is a tortured one, however the one aspect of him that is always reliable is his flair for the beautiful and dramatic. His costumes are sparkly, sequin covered and ‘red’. The costumes are designed by Sammy Sheldon, she is known for her work on films such as V for Vendetta (2005), X-Men: First Class (2011) and Kick-Ass (2010). Lola’s elaborate entrance to Northampton in a shiny blue suit speaks for the art and beauty of Lola’s character, brought out by the films costume design. The film focuses on British values of friendship, society, community and family legacy. The film brings together these ideologies with a wonderful, captivating twist. A British shoe company making transvestite shoes, what could go wrong? or what could go wonderfully right? This film is a magical collaboration with different, colourful characters.
It is one of my favourite uplifting feel good films. Could it be one of yours?