Cinema Signal:

Managing Innovation:
A Study of British and Japanese Factories

. "Kinky Boots"

From the British Isles comes another comedy with social implications. This time the laughs are on transexuality, entrepreneurship, jobs, and design talent. It's rough in places, difficult to understand in others, but the core human spirit slowly develops into a nice experience.

Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) is his father's son. In fact, it says so on the big sign over the factory building the family shoe business is housed in. Dad instills the values of fairness and nose to the grindstone into his boy, and clings to the everlasting quality and bland, conservative look in his product. The business is struggling, contracts are being cancelled, and dad dies.

Leaving Charlie the task of downsizing or, as he puts it, "I made 40 people redundant today." Charlie's more the romantic than the business man, which is not the way his fiance melanie (Linda Bassett) would prefer it. Charlie would also rather keep his workers gainfully employed than sell out to a developer. So, what's he to do to keep the machines pressing, cutting and rolling?

Enlisting the aid of one of his redundants, Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts), who happens also to be about the most comely of the employees, he sets out to do a little research for a long boot design. The team of two researchers winds up in a cabaret which stars a brassy transexual entertainer with phony hair, phony boobs, and the oomph and energy to go with it, Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor in drag). "What Lola Wants Lola Gets" is the theme song.

Charlie and Lauren "consult" the trend setter and before you can say "Marlene Dietrich" he's designing boots and raising hopes that the new line, when it's shown in a Milan fashion show, will be the key to the factory's survival. For Charlie, it's going to involve sacrifices, mainly his betrothal. For Lauren, it'll involve some requiting for her support of the man she loves. And, for Lola, a new career direction.

The sound track is something to get. As though playing a transexual weren't enough to showcase Ejiofor's talent range, he does the actual singing of such theme related faves as "These Boots Are Made For Walking," "I Want To Be Evil," and "Together We Are Beautiful." Joining in on the soundtrack are Lyn Collins, Nina Simone, David Bowie and a track that ends the end credits and blew me away, "In These Shoes," by Kirsty Maccoll. Lyrical, Cubano rhythms, sturdy voiced dynamite. Stay for it.

It all comes out with formulaic steadiness and the kind of satisfactions that spells big bucks back home and a decent play in the colonies.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah-Jane Potts and Joel Edgerton
Hatching a fashion plot
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