By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Prior to watching this film, I was totally unaware of the stage play that inspires this remarkabe and lovable movie. After enjoying it, however, I would absolutely love to see a wonderful stage production as this story is truly meant to be experienced. That is not to say, at all, that I did not like this movie adaptation. No, this would be quite far from the truth. Director Jonathan Buterell has made a vibrant and joyous musical film, with a delightful cast of actors, that should galvanize audiences to seek stage productions of this wonderfully remarkable true story. The movie tells the story of an enthusiastic gay teen who aspires to become a superstar on the stage, but definitely wants to do so on his own terms.
Max Harwood stars as Jamie, a teenager in Sheffield, England who has always been an outcast and an outsider, but has huge dreams of becoming a star as a drag queen. Though his blue collar, conservative home of Sheffield isn’t exactly condusive to his aspirations, Jamie remains undaunted in what he wants to do with his life. Despite the fact that his father (Ralph Inneson) has pretty much abandoned the family, Jamie’s loving and supportive mother (Sarah Lancashire) relishes in everything that makes Jamie special. Jamie decides, as his final act of defiance to the dull and boring life that Sheffield has to offer, that he will attend his prom in drag and in a most triumphant way. In pursuing his goals, Jamie comes across a former drag queen and dress shop owner in Sheffield by the name of Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant). Hugo, who at one time expressed himself as the drag queen Loco Chanelle, encourages and tutors Jamie to become his most fabulous self ever.
Based on the musical stage play by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, which is based on the true life of a British drag queen, Everbody’s Talking About Jamie is a joyous and inspiring musical movie that should not only be a crowd-pleaser, but should also empower LGBTQ youth to express themselves freely. Though the movie has plenty of effervescent songs and themes, the film also addresses the negative reactions that homophobic, ignorant people can have toward these life styles and how these responses can hurt and harm people who simply want to express themselves in different ways. With a screenplay by Tom MacRae, director Jonathan Buterrell does a great job of recreating this vivacious and life-affirming story for cinema.
With a wonderful assortment of great, catchy songs and a fine cast performing them, it is certainly difficult to not love what this movie has to offer. As the titular Jamie, Max Harwood is an absolute joy to behold. The young performer acts and sings with a potency and a zest for life that is undeniable. As his wonderful mother Margaret, Sarah Lancashire brings much dimension, heart and vulnerability to the character. As Pritti Pasha, Jamie’s best friend and closest confidant, Lauren Patel is absolutely wonderful. It would be an absolute sin if I don’t mention the amazing and impassioned turn by Richard E. Grant who shines wonderfully as Jamie’s mentor Hugo Battersby/Loco Chanelle, the seasoned former drag queen who knows exactly what Jamie needs to soar as high as he possibly can.
Everybodys Talking About Jamie will be available in both theaters and will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime, but it is a movie I am so glad I experienced on the big screen. It is a truly delightful, syrupy sweet movie that has some timely and wonderful messages about life and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams.