Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Jonathan Butterell
Starring: Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Richard E Grant, Sharon Horgan
Available on Amazon Prime from September 17th
Like so many movies, this release fell foul of the pandemic. Originally scheduled to hit theatres last October it was pulled due to CoVid restrictions and after much toing and froing, it found its way to Amazon Prime instead. Based on the hit musical, which itself is based on the BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen At 16, this tells the story of Jamie New, an aspiring Drag Queen who struggles against prejudice and bullies to sashay into the limelight as his authentic self.
If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit camp you’d be right. It is camper than RuPaul on a camping holiday with Liberace, Kenneth Williams, Larry Grayson and every Drag Race contestant ever. This is a good thing – camp is generally joyous and fun and this movie has those qualities in spades. The songs are extremely infectious, I guarantee you’ll be singing them long after the credits roll.
Newcomer Harwood is delightful as Jamie and Lancashire is impressive as his loving and supportive mother. Richard Grant positively shines as Hugo aka Loco Chanel, a former drag queen, and he brings a huge gravitas to one of the more serious segments of the story (no spoilers but it really is heart wrenching). In fact, this is just wonderfully cast in general and many actors from the stage show do pop up here.
First-time feature director Butterell directed the stage show and his familiarity with the material is really on display here. I did feel at times he directed the musical sequences quite theatrically, staying true to the stage choreography rather than taking full advantage of being able to open up the world of the story but this is a minor complaint.
While this will strike a chord with LGBTQ youths it is not confined to that audience. Anyone who struggled through those awkward teen years will find this relatable on some level (so that means everybody I guess). It’s not quite as energetic as it seems to think it is but this is a really entertaining and enjoyable musical that will leave you with a broad grin on your face.