‘Glitter & Doom’ Review: Indigo Girls Based Musical

The Indigo Girls are having a bit of a moment right now. I don’t know if there has ever been a time when they weren’t having a moment, but between “Closer to Fine” appearing in Barbie and the documentary It’s Only Life After All that also released last year, the pair has been in the spotlight. Now, their iconic music is taking center stage in the jukebox musical Glitter & Doom from director Tom Gustafson. 

The story of Glitter & Doom

Doom (Alan CammishBuckshot) is a musician struggling to find a forum for his darker lyrical style. When auditioning for club owner Boston (Lea DeLariaOrange is the New Black), she tells him that if he wants to play on her stage, he has to perform something lighter. But his past, particularly with his mother Robin (Missi PyleGalaxy Quest), makes it difficult for him to find lightness in what he observes.

On the other side of the spectrum, Glitter (Alex DiazJust the Way You Are) is being pressured by his wealthy, successful mother, Ivy (Ming-Na WenMulan), to choose something more serious than his desired path of studying clowning so that he can become a circus performer. But when the two go out one night and meet in a crowded bar, these opposites attract across the room and it is love at first sight. 

Glitter & Doom was a mixed bag

I really wanted to love this film. A queer romance set to the music of one of the most iconic queer musical duos ever? Yes, please. And elements of this film really worked. But it was a mixed bag, for sure.

The music is, of course, the part that people tend to be the most excited about, and it does not disappoint. Musical arranger Michelle Chamuel’s techno versions of classic Indigo Girls songs like “Galileo,” “Get Out the Map,” and “Everything in Its Own Time” are fantastic, and I expect fans are going to love the way various songs are remixed and blended in this to help tell the story. Seeing snippets of lyrics like “Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable” floating across the screen, bolstering the story, will no doubt delight fans of Amy and Emily. The Indigo Girls know how to write songs, and that is beautifully on display in this movie.

However, the strength of the lyricism serves to amplify the weakness of Cory Krueckeberg’s script that connects the songs. So much of the dialogue just felt like filler until the next song. Rob Marshall once said, “When movement isn’t enough, you dance, or when speaking isn’t enough, you sing,” so the expectation in a musical is that the most impactful moments will be sung, but the hope is always that the story takes us to those singing moments. Unfortunately, a lot of the musical moments felt unearned in this.

Amy Ray, Alan Cammish, and Alex Diaz in Glitter & Doom (2023)
Amy Ray, Alan Cammish, and Alex Diaz in Glitter & Doom. Image courtesy of Music Box Films.

The movie looks like a rainbow in every frame

In the positive column, I loved the visuals in this movie. When so many movies have a depressing, desaturated palette, Glitter & Doom looks like a rainbow in every frame. If you are a movie-goer who wants to see color in their films, this movie will scratch that itch.

But again, for this positive, there is a negative. One of the big appeals of a musical are the dance numbers. I would love to talk to you about what these looked like, but honestly, they were so heavily edited that I really can’t speak to that at all. When Doom and Glitter meet for the first time, it’s a major dance scene, and nothing stays on screen for more than two seconds through the entire song. I have no idea how to comment on the choreography because of the number of blur cuts used throughout the numbers. I’m not sure if the purpose was to create a further sense of the magical realism present through much of the film, but all it did was make the dancing hard to watch.

The performances from Cammish and Diaz are also a little uneven. The singing is fantastic, and in a musical, that means more to me than just about anything else, so I absolutely want to give props for that. But again, the not-singing parts were melodramatic in ways that took me out of the story. Some of that is related to the script, which wove in tons of lyrics rather than creating a more coherent storyline, but some was directly from the actors themselves. Beyond that, this film has more cameos than expected from a small production, including appearances from Kate Pierson of The B-52’s, the drag queen Peppermint, and of course, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. There was also a bit from Tig Notaro as the French clown instructor that was truly funny.

Alan Cammish and Alex Diaz in Glitter and Doom
Alan Cammish and Alex Diaz in Glitter & Doom. Image courtesy of Music Box Films.

Glitter & Doom still has something beautiful to offer audiences

It’s hard to criticize a film that wears its heart so visibly on its sleeve, so despite its flaws, I allowed the better parts of Glitter & Doom to blur over some of those insufficiencies. Films with LGBTQ themes still struggle to find financial support, and LGBTQ artists still often find those meager roles given to straight actors. This movie was made for and by the LGTBQ community and that has its own value. It may be a crooked line to get there, but there is something beautiful in these 115 minutes of film, and if we squint, we can see it. And as Amy and Emily have taught us, closer to fine is an admirable goal.

Glitter & Doom will be streaming soon.

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