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Inside Out 2022 Review: Tramps!

May 31, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival runs from May 26th to June 5th in Toronto, more information on tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

Directed, written and produced by Canadian filmmaker Kevin Hegge, Tramps! is a documentary that explores the history of the New Romantics, a British collective of artists, dancers, musicians and filmmakers who emerged in the wake of the punk rock movement in the 1970s and ’80s.

Inspired by punk bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols, though more glam and fashion-forward than their anarchic predecessors, the New Romantics were at the forefront of counter-culture in Thatcher’s London, including many gay and gender non-conforming folks who found community in the underworld art scene. Prominent figures in the movement included the underground film director Derek Jarman, Australian performance artist Leigh Bowery, and the Neo Naturists, a naked performance troupe who covered themselves in body paint.

Hegge mixes archival footage and talking head interviews with various creatives from the era like Princess Julia, Scarlett Cannon, and Duggie Fields and Judy Blame (who both passed away before the film was completed), keeping more famous figures like Boy George mostly on the periphery. The point is to give voice to lesser known members of the movement, but the film at times feels like it lacks a wider focus. It doesn’t really capture the larger culture around the New Romantics, making us feel a bit lost without the added context, and giving it a sort of “you had to be there” energy.

It packs a lot into a roughly hundred minute running time and does move at a quick clip, but it has no real time to breathe and almost doesn’t allow us to get to know these subjects on a deeper level. The film also gets into the darker aspects of the movement, including the devastating impacts of drug abuse and the AIDS epidemic, but these points feel somewhat rushed at the end. Still, Tramps! offers a decent and slickly assembled introduction to this counter-cultural movement, providing a good enough overview to make us curious to learn more.

Screenings:

Tuesday, May 31st – 7:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

The film is also available to stream virtually from May 31st to June 5th across Canada.

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