Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

by | Sep 19, 2021 | Podcast, Two Drink Cinema | 0 comments

Based on the Stage Musical of the same name, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the story of 16-year-old Jamie New who dreams of becoming a drag queen. Set in Sheffield, England, the film follows Jamie (Max Harwood) on a journey of self-discovery and while he is encouraged by his supportive Mother, Margaret (Sarah Lancashire) and best friend Pritti (Lauren Patel), he has the usual obstacles you might expect him to encounter in a working-class town, his absent father and an uptight teacher (Sharon Horgan). After being gifted his first pair of high heels Jamie’s dream is closer than ever and while shopping for a dress for the Prom, he meets Hugo Battersby aka pioneering drag queen “Loco Chanelle” (Richard E Grant) who quickly decides to become Jamie’s mentor.

The songs are exactly what you would expect to hear from a West End musical and include the obligatory ballads of self-discovery and heartache and upbeat dance numbers. This film adaptation isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. The storyline, characters, and setting give it a very “Billy Elliott” vibe (just substituting Ballet for Drag) and the songs generally didn’t stand out  (writing this I even have a Kinky Boots song stuck in my head). Although, highlights do include the title number and Sarah Lancashire’s performance of He’s My Boy.

Jonathan Butterell directs Everybody’s Talking About Jamie adequately and the dance numbers stand out with great choreography and camera work that achieves a sense of fantasy that a stage musical can not always convey. Max Harwood (in his acting debut) plays Jamie effortlessly. He is endearing and confident, bold but naive and unapologetically queer. Sarah Lancashire gives the film its heart, playing Jamie’s supportive mother Margaret she shines with pride, and her selflessness throughout the movie allows the film to still be brought back down to reality. Richard E Grant plays the scene-stealing Hugo Battersby well and with great charisma but his casting seems to be a bit out of place considering the message of the film overall. Why is this gay pioneer played by a straight actor when there are so many openly queer actors that could have filled his heels just as well if not better (and many of them might have been able to get through the role with significantly less autotune). Obviously, the movie wanted a couple of “big names” to draw in an audience considering much of the cast is relatively unknown. But for a musical, it would help if they were better singers so the song showed more heart and felt less artificial. I think this causes the film to lose a bit of the vibrancy that the live stage musical would have had. 

Overall, the film feels like something we’ve all seen before and is predictably uplifting. But it is a great portrayal of a young queer person that inspires us to go out and be themselves. As a feel-good, coming-of-age story it is a great option for the family to watch together on a weekend afternoon. It’s definitely a film for a lover of musicals and fans of films and shows such as Billy Elliott and Kinky Boots will surely enjoy Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. 

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