Film Review – Kinky Boots

Directed: Julian Jarrold

Writer: Geoff Deane, Tim Firth

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, Sarah-Jane Potts

Tagline: “How Far Would You Go To Save The Family Business?”

Trivia: The Shoe Fair depicted actually exists and it’s called MICAM, it’s not situated in the centre of Milan, obviously, but in the exhibition complex in the outskirts of the city.

This is one movie that I keep watching (and force others too) whenever I want to remind myself what business is all about and what is the best strategy for your marketing.

Whenever I would teach about Marketing 101 this movie would be the perfect example of what it means niche marketing and changing your product when your market has disappeared.

The other great lesson we can take from this movie concerning marketing is that the key to your success is ASKING your target group what would they want and not deciding it for them.

Getting them involved in your product and helping you design what they want. That way you have a much higher success in selling what you are making… This is true also for us writers too

Before it was a smash stage musical on Broadway and West-End Kinky Boots was a fantastic movie that was such a delight it just demanded a stage version.

Kinky Boots is the story of Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) who inherits his father shoe factory only to discover that it is on the brink of bankruptcy.

The reason is very simply – no one wants anymore shoes that last forever, people want the latest fad. So on the advice of one of his employees Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts) Charlie decides to think out of the box and find a new market and create a new product.

Enter Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a drag queen who will help Charlie find his niche market and educate him on how to make his factory a success (and also his love life)…

Though our Protagonist is Charlie, it’s Lola who steals the show. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the drag queen in a performance that is different than any other stereotype drag queen you’ve ever seen in the movies.

He plays the role not as a man pretending to be a woman, and not as a woman trapped in a man’s body, and not as a parody of a woman, and not as a gay man, but as a drag queen, period: Lola, a tall, athletic performer in thigh-high red boots who rules the stage of a drag club as if she were born there, and is a pretty good singer, too.

In preparing for the role, Ejiofor must have decided not to sneer, nor to smooth, or to hash, but to belt out songs with great good humor that dares the audience to take exception. That’s what makes Lola stand out.

Unless you seriously expect the factory to go bankrupt Kinky Boots has a few surprises for you. The climax comes at the annual shoe show in Milan, where last-minute developments unfold right on schedule.

Kinky Boots follows some standard fairly foolproof plot devices. There’s the son taking over the family business even though he has no interest in it but finds the joy of making shoes after all.

Then there’s the drag queen who is just so fan-fucking-fantastic on stage and OWNS the world but harbours deep pain over a father who never understood her and can’t find the right man to save her life. These kind of Boots have walked before.

Though the movie is conventional in all other departments Ejiofor’s performance as Lola shows how an actor can take a character, which is full of stereotypes and clearing them out of the way, while finding a direct line to who the character really is.
The way he plays Lola he makes an argument that no words could possibly improve upon. 

Kinky Boots is the sort of film that commands you to surrender your sensibilities and surrender to the energy, spirit and heart of it all.

The outstanding performances of the ensemble cast, but especially that of Ejiofor, make this an easy task. And if that’s not enough – you just might get some great tips for your business if you watch it carefully.

Verdict – 4.5/5 Stars in my book

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