Having already seen the West End show twice before the release of the movie musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, I feel like I can call myself an aficionado when it comes to the story and music of the hit show. Whilst nothing can emulate the atmosphere created during a live performance, the film adaptation of the coming-of-age drag queen backstory, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, has captured the hearts and minds of the public.
If you still do not know who Jamie is, he is a young secondary school student growing up on a rather close-minded council estate in Sheffield who dreams of being a drag queen. As children, many of us are told to never stop following our dreams and that we can achieve anything we want to. However, this narrative usually comes to an abrupt end when we hit the age of 16 and the real world comes creeping up on us. What Everybody’s Talking About Jamie teaches us is that sometimes not listening to the authoritative figures in our lives can actually pay off.
Featuring the music and sometimes word for word dialogue of the theatre show, this film adaptation stays true to its original reference material. So much so that it has been endorsed by the inspiration behind the entire franchise, Jamie Campbell. Film’s freshest face, Max Harwood, leads the cast in creating an endearing Jamie that truly offers a spotlight in a world full of darkness. The supporting cast, including Sarah Lancashire as Jamie’s mum, Margaret, Lauren Patel as his best friend, and Shobna Gulati as Margaret’s wing woman, all complement the story’s tone of self-acceptance and add to the journey that we are taken on with Jamie.
The brilliant thing about the film is that everyone is able to relate to it. Whether, during your own school years, you were the dreamer, assiduous best friend, or even the bully, anyone can see a little part of their lives in the microcosm that is this 115 minute long movie. Some critics have highlighted the various cliches that feature in the story, but I believe that they only increase the comforting sense of familiarity that the film evokes in its audience.
It was a substantial risk to change the backstory of Jamie’s drag mentor, Hugo Battersby a.k.a Loco Chanelle, but one that pays off. In place of Hugo’s tragic stage show lovestory in which his partner is unfaithful to him, is a video medley depicting the AIDS crisis of the 80s. Revisiting the famous clips of Princess Diana helping to disperse myths surrounding AIDS and rock icon, Freddie Mercury, who passed away from the disease, adds a new layer of emotion to the film. We are also shown how Hugo himself lost a lot of his found drag family to the crisis. The topic, which is handled with immense care, is an important one to be discussing and continues to be relevant today.
Overall, the story does seem to work better on a stage. However, for those who are unable to reach the threates, the film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie offers an immaculate alternative. It is heartwarming. It is real. It teaches crucial lessons that everyone would benefit from learning.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Image courtesy of Jesús Boscán.