Directed by: Julian
Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Linda Bassett, Leo Bill,
Released by: Buena Vista
Short: An uptight young businessman has
to walk in a transvestite's shoes to save his
family's footwear factory.
Light in the Loafers
Boots Trip Over a Familiar Formula
Charlie’s (Joel Edgerton) new life in London is
cut short when his father passes away and he inherits
the family footwear factory out in Northampton. Trying
to fill his father’s shoes, Charlie quickly learns
that the company is in terrible shape. With lay-offs and
bankruptcy looming, a desperate Charlie makes a sales
trip to London where he serendipitously meets a sassy
drag queen (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who inspires him with an
idea that just might save the factory.
plan to rescue his father's traditional company by tapping
into the cross-dressing niche to manufacture sexy women's
boots for dudes would seem totally contrived if the film’s
opening didn’t assure us it was based on a true
story. With Lola’s help, Charlie must convince his
blue-collar employees to put petty bigotries aside and
join him in this venture.
“Kinky Boots” is treading familiar ground
(a protagonist bucking the parochialism of small-town
Britain to embark on an eccentric venture in order to
save the jobs/ farm/ estate etc.) it is not without its
charms. Looking like the U.K.’s own Conan O’Brien,
Edgarton makes a charmingly flustered young boss. The
cabaret-singing Lola is an oddly asexual and underwritten
character saddled with the painful job of teaching Charlie
and his co-workers the life lessons they need—all
in time for the big Milan Shoe Fair, but Ejifor makes
Lola sing—literally—and dazzles by embodying
a character who’s both tough-as-nails and fragile
as a school girl.
Boots" never delves deep enough into its characters
to make it feel anything but slight, and despite the potentially
edgy subject matter, the story feels sanitized without
even the cheekiness of say, "The Full Monty."
Yet, fans of this mini-genre ("The Full Monty,"
"Brassed Off," "Calendar Girls," and
even the just released "On
A Clear Day") from across the pond will appreciate
its warm whimsy and Ejiofor’s wonderful showcase