Guest Author - Karen L Hardison
Lola is thrown into a situation that reopens an old identity question that is mirrored by the identity question the Price Shoe Factory is facing. Charlie Price tells each worker as he fires them, "What can I do?" "What can I do?" is Charlie's mantra until he tries to fire Lauren, who had her heart set on Chinese for dinner but no longer knows if she can afford it. When Charlie says to her, "What can I do?" she answers, "Change the product."
A revolution begins with those words, a revolution that leads accidentally to Lola's dressing room and kinky boots. Kinky Boots is a story about individuals who challenge identity, make an improbable team and succeed in the impossible. While the main story is about the identity of people and a shoe factory, and while there are love stories embedded in the tale of Price Shoe Factory, there is also a story about social realities in England told in the character's accents.
Charlie was born and raised in Northampton, England, a Midlands community, south of Birmingham, noted for its distinctive accent. He is engaged to Nicola, also from Northampton, who has great aspirations to be a powerhouse real estate agent in London. Nicola has abandoned her Northampton accent and speaks like a well-bred Londoner. Nicola's fondest dream has come true; she and Charlie are leaving Northampton because she has accepted a promotion within her real estate firm. She shows Charlie the view from their new London apartment window and starts singing and dancing because there is no Price Shoe Factory out the window, when the phone rings and Charlie learns his father has died.
The shoe factory is now Charlie's and he learns that things are not what they appeared to be. If he sells the factory and closes it, as Nicola wants, hundreds of the towns people will be without work. This is when Lauren tells Charlie, while he is firing her, to "Change the product."
Enter Lola, a drag queen entertainer who likes red boots although they keep breaking under the "weight of a man." It is when Lauren and Charlie and Lola discover Price Shoe Factory's new niche market, "A Price shoe will last a man a lifetime," that identities begin to struggle and heave and change.
The love stories bring Lauren and Charlie together after Nicola runs off with another realtor, and bring Charlie and Lola into a deep and understanding friendship, but first everything goes painfully wrong in Northampton and Milan, Italy.
The film's story is also told in the undercurrent of accents. It turns out that Lola's posh London accent is as much an adopted thing as the great curves in the clinging evening gowns worn onstage for sultry, swinging songs. Lola is a Midlander, too. Lola and Charlie are cut from the same cloth (or...leather) and speak with the same Midlands accent, even though smothered under the pomp and splendor of stage makeup and sequins.
Nicola--who is wild for quality shoes if they carry big price tags and big names like Jimmy Choo--abandoned her Northampton speech to adopt London airs, while Charlie clung to his Northampton sound. Ultimately, Nicola abandons her engagement to Charlie and runs away with a real estate developer who shares her aspirations for a life in London...away from Northampton. Lauren--who loves quality shoes if they serve a purpose--eventually wins Charlie's love and is as thoroughly Midlands as he himself is. In her practicality, she asks Charlie "How is that applicable to me?" when he tries to give empty excuses for his ineptitude as a Northampton factory owner. Practicality is a trait Lola, Charlie and Lauren all share, although it sure looks different from one to the other.
In terms pf filmmaking, by their accents alone, we know that Charlie and Nicola are not suited; that Nicola will run off with the posh speaking real estate developer; that Charlie and Lola, once the stage accent is set aside for a moment, are cut from the same cloth and will be friends; and that Charlie and Lauren are destined for each other. But more than this, the accents tell about how the sounds of the English language reveal socioeconomic and socio-psychological situations currently existing in England.
Two characters (Nicola and Lola) accommodated their speech to an aspired sociocultural level. One abandons all--everyone, everything--to embrace another lifestyle. The other rediscovers the cut of the cloth and re-embraces the beginnings and roots of identity, while still holding onto to broader aspirations. For a long time in England accents and dialects were squelched. Kinky Boots shows that while some may flee the limit imposing perceptions affixed to non-London speech, others can embrace both regional roots and a non-regional posh accent, just like Lola does when when weaving stage performances together with Price's Kinky Boot Factory.
Based on a true story about a real shoe factory, this technically terrific Comedic Drama is a good, entertaining, thought provoking movie to see, and is made even better by an appreciation of the importance of the sounds of English. It's rated PG-13, but I don't think it's suitable for anyone under 17 years old.
Kinky Boots (2005)
Julian Jarrold - Director
Geoff Deame & Tim Firth [Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)] - Writers
Eigil Bryld - Cinematography
Joel Edgerton - Charlie Price
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Lola
Sarah-Jane Potts - Lauren
Jemima Rooper - Nicola
For Your Convenience, Buy Movie Tickets from Fandango!