Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Kicker: Kinky Boots
Maybe we’re just pining over all the classy ladies wearing new shoes to Easter church services this weekend, but for some reason, we have heels on our minds.
What better way to celebrate and have a bit of catharsis than watching a movie all about heels and queerness?
Before Kinky Boots conquered Broadway and made Billy Porter into a star, the story began life as a little-seen indie film in 2005. As directed by Julian Jerrold, the story remains essentially the same. A struggling shoemaker named Charlie (Joel Edgerton) fights to keep his family business afloat in rural England. On a visit to London, a chance encounter leads Charlie into the presence of Lola/Simon (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a professional drag queen. Charlie finds drag shoes fascinating and comes up with a wild scheme: his shoe factory will begin to produce high-heeled shoes and boots aimed at a drag queen market. He also brings Lola on as a consultant, much to the discomfort of his hetero-male staff.
Even if Kinky Boots hadn’t become a musical sensation, most readers could probably guess how this story turns out. This isn’t the kind of movie to watch for suspense. Much in the same vein as To Wong Foo, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, or other drag comedies, Kinky Boots exists to uplift with style and sass. It helps that both Edgerton and in particular, Ejiofor, give terrific performances that add stakes to the formula plot. The sincerity with which they play their love story–albeit a platonic one–makes us care when we want to roll our eyes at the predictability of it all.
Both Broadway director Jerry Mitchell and Billy Porter have expressed interest in a film adaptation of the Kinky Boots musical. Hollywood bosses, if you’re reading this, we endorse that project. Until that time, we’ll feast on the OG for its performances, zingers, and fabulously gay old time.
Streams on Showtime, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon & VUDU.