Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

A boy in a dress is something to be laughed at, but a drag queen is something to be feared.

Tom MacRae ~ Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Synopsis

Jamie Campbell was an ambitious 16 year old boy determined to go to his school prom in a dress and to become a drag queen. The musical, by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, is based on the documentary ‘Jamie, Drag Queen at 16’ and the film version is out on Amazon Prime on 17th September 2021.

Review

Translating a stage musical into a film is no mean feat. Although there’s the opportunity to use locations to emphasise aspects of the story, there’s a magic to theatre that can get lost on the big screen.

With the film version of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Tom MacRae and Jonathan Butterall get it just right. Dan Gillespie’s big numbers work well in a large scale environment, breathing life into Jamie’s time at school. Yet within the film there’s also scope for enhanced creativity, particularly with the song Work of Art which is a surreal yet beautiful scene.

But it’s the poignant numbers that capture our hearts on stage; these are well translated and remain simple and effective as Jamie’s mum (Sarah Lancashire) sings the beautiful He’s My Boy in her kitchen and Pritti (Lauren Patel) serenades Jamie with It Means Beautiful in her bedroom.

The Ballad of Loco Chanel, where we learn the importance of a drag queen’s persona has been cut. Although this is a shame, its replacement This Was Me is so moving that it brings a much deeper level to the story. The accompanying montage is vivid and heartbreaking as Hugo shares what it was like to be a gay man in the 1980s, depicting the AIDS crisis and Section 28; yet it also shows that even though there’s still a long way to go, we shouldn’t forget how far we’ve come. 

Richard E. Grant seems an unusual choice for Hugo at first, but there is raw emotion in his voice during the lead in to the new number (sung by Holly Johnson) and overall he is good in the role.

Max Harwood is a joy to watch as Jamie New: charismatic, funny and genuine. His relationship with each character is believable and shows the many levels to his personality. Lauren Patel is natural in the role of Pritti and brings a softer, more mature side to the role. 

Overall it’s a lovely film full of joy, emotion and hope that does justice to the musical and to the story of Jamie Campbell.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was provided with press tickets and hospitality by Prime Video. All opinions my own. Originally written and reviewed for West End Wilma.

For more creative theatre and book reviews, follow @Paradise_Library on Instagram.

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