Kinky Boots - TV Review

'Ejiofor's Lola is by far the most vibrant element within Kinky Boots, helping to cut through a lot of the far less inspired material on offer'. 

For much of the 1990s, British cinema found itself a comfortable, marketable niche: comedy-dramas which juxtaposed serious sociopolitical events with exaggerated, almost cartoon-like humour. 1997's The Full Monty is probably the most well-known of the crop thanks to becoming a surprise international hit, even if it wasn't the first by a few years to use the formula.

By the mid 2000s, the British film industry had largely moved onto the cockney crime flicks popularised by Guy Ritchie, the observational genre comedies of Edgar Wright, and the family-friendly fantasy of the Harry Potter franchise. Embarking therefore on a film that follows so rigidly the nineties dramedy structure as 2005's Kinky Boots does is from one angle a brave decision, but is also a choice which is ultimately liable to limit the freshness of the finished product.

Such is the case for director Julian Jarrold's film, which constantly struggles to justify the use of a tired and predictable formula at its core. It feels as though scriptwriters Geoff Deane and Tim Firth borrowed from as many '90s Britflick screenplays as they could, then filled in the gaps once they'd settled on a beleaguered industry (shoemaking) and geographical location (Northampton) to which they could turn their attention.

What this results in is a narrative that offers disappointingly few surprises. As soon as we witness the initial confrontation between Charlie (Joel Edgerton), reluctant heir to his father's shoe factory, and Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts), an employee he is forced to let go, it's inevitable where their relationship is headed even without taking into consideration Charlie's overbearing fiancée Nicola (Jemima Rooper). Similarly, it's not hard to work out the arc factory worker and stereotypical knuckle-dragging "bloke" Don (Nick Frost) will follow once Charlie makes the decision to switch production from everyday shoes to high heeled footwear for drag queens.

That Kinky Boots isn't sunk by its formulaic narrative is largely down to Jarrold's strong and likeable cast. Edgerton judges his performance well and, aside from a final act conflict that feels contrived and out of character, Charlie makes for an everyman for whom it's very easy to root. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Lola is the role you will leave Kinky Boots remembering, however. The actor's performance brings heart and humour to a part where a step in the wrong direction either way could have made the film feel out of date and out of touch. As it is, Ejiofor's Lola is by far the most vibrant element within Kinky Boots, helping to cut through a lot of the far less inspired material on offer.




By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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