Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the latest in a slew of musical adaptations heading for the big screen and makes it mark with a bang. Based on the true story about a 16 year old boy who aspires to dress in drag at his high school prom, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is an upbeat film about identity, difference and acceptance. The stage musical has taken the world by storm and is a mainstay on the West End having been nominated for numerous Laurence Olivier Awards and won many awards from awarding bodies such as the WhatsOnStage Awards. When the film adaptation was revealed to be in the works, there was naturally a lot of excitement as it has very big shoes to fill and it does not disappointment. From the heartfelt performances to the crisp choreography, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie can be viewed as a necessary film in this time of uncertainty and social negativity.
The film is directed by Jonathan Butterell who directed the original stage production when it was developed in Sheffield and based on a script by Tom MacRae, who wrote the book and lyrics for the musical which means that we are in reliable hands. There are certain changes that have had to be made but are necessary to help the story translate well on the screen. Equally, they have taken advantage of the fact that it is a film and allow themselves to push themselves cinematically to create a world in which the audience can truly be immersed and connected to the characters. Recruiting Butterell and MacRae as director and writer, respectively, allows the film to stay true to its roots and helps push the authenticity of the narrative and the community.
Leading the film is newcomer Max Harwood who does a stellar job as Jamie. He fits naturally into the role and truly captures every side to the character from his desire to perform in drag to the reality he has as an openly gay teen in a small community where he is bullied and encouraged to hide that side of himself. What makes Jamie such a fantastic character is that he is flawed which makes him more relatable and Harwood portrays him with no filter so we are able to see every side while still remaining likeable. With this film marking Harwood’s big breakthrough, it’s a great foreshadowing of what is to come in what is guaranteed to be a flourishing career. There has been a lot of debates about adults playing teenagers but although he is 24, Harwood does look appropriate and plays the role well with the maturity required so it isn’t distracting in the way that other films can be.
Playing Jamie’s mum, Margaret is Sarah Lancashire who can always be relied upon to bring a fantastic performance. Known primarily for her stellar work on TV, Lancashire is a great choice as she brings that authenticity to the role and has great chemistry with Harwood which makes their relationship seem completely believable. What is great about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is that the majority of the supporting cast is made up of established working class actors which is incredibly important when it comes to onscreen representation, especially when it comes to British cinema.
As with any cinematic adaptation of a musical, there always has to be at least one A-lister among the cast and in this case we have Richard E. Grant as Jamie’s mentor, Hugo who also performs in drag under the persona Loco Chanelle. Grant is a fantastic actor and has shown throughout his career that he is capable of turning a great performance in any kind of film. Coming off the back of his Oscar-nominated turn in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Grant brings this character to life in a way where we really feel the struggles that Hugo has faced as an older gay man who lived through the AIDs epidemic. As one of the most versatile British actors working today, Grant was definitely the perfect choice for this role and no doubt should be thought about for awards consideration.
The way that the musical numbers are integrated into this film is incredibly important and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie does a great job of not just replicating the stage musical to the screen. From having some of the songs in the background to incorporating tracks from the conceptual album, the music feels different than the stage and this makes it great and feel more confident in itself as a film. With a wide range of songs on the soundtrack, some of the highlights include “Don’t Even Know It” in which we see Jamie’s dream as a drag queen and introduced to this side of him as well as Lancashire’s heart-breaking performance of “He’s My Boy” in which she laments the struggles and rejection Jamie faces from his father. The film’s ability to shift emotionally is portrayed perfectly through the music without feeling stagey or unnatural.
Overall, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a fantastic adaptation that makes the appropriate changes so it works well onscreen and allows the audience to get to know the characters. With perfect casting and great performances from the leading and supporting cast, this film is incredibly enjoyable and an ideal choice for those wanting a new and exciting film that leaves you feeling upbeat.
What did you think of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie? Let me know in the comments below!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is available to watch on Amazon Prime now!