Catchy tunes, true reality, and love make this LGBTQ musical inspiring.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” informs us that it’s based on a true story, and that it added the singing and dancing. This true story regarding a 16-year-old drag queen wannabe in 2011, who didn’t let fear and hate stop him from achieving his dream, made it on stage in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. And now, it makes its debut on Amazon Prime and a few select theaters with the kind of motivation and high spirts the LGBTQ community would adore.
I may be straight, but I still support the main protagonist, and I’m proud of him for overcoming the obstacles. And being a musical, with lyrics by Tom MacRae (the genius behind the show), its songs are catchy, uplifting, and passionate.
We meet Jamie New (newcomer Max Harwood), who just turned 16, and his dream, among many things, is to become a drag queen. That’s why he has his hair dyed blonde, why he dreams of elaborate musicals set in night clubs, and why he plans to save up for glittery red pumps. While his strict teacher (Sharon Horgan) thinks he’s crazy for for dreaming big, his loving mother Margaret (Sarah Lancashire) scraps and saves for the pumps he covets for his birthday.
His Muslim friend with the Hindu name Pritti (Lauren Patel) is so supportive of his dream that she suggests that he wears the pumps at the prom to show everyone he wants to be the Jamie of all drag queens.
His father (Ralph Ineson) is homophobic that he refuses to see him, even on his birthday. He’s about to have a baby with another woman, which means his parenting with his original boy is done. Margaret doesn’t want to tell Jamie the truth.
He also has to deal with the bully Dean Paxton (Samuel Bottomley), who insults him with gay slurs, but Jamie has the balls to stand up to him. We don’t get much movies where the hero thrives on the bullying without suicidal thoughts.
And his mentor Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant) is a former drag queen named Loco Chanelle (Jamie McCrea, the original Jamie actor in the West End play) who runs the local drag shop. He tells Jamie that he needs a persona, one that distinguishes him from his real identity. Mimi Me is Jamie’s stage name, and dreaming this high is his game.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” knows the stakes like “Moonlight,” “Love, Simon,” and “Boy Erased,” among many good-to-great gay movies, and it shows us the qualities and difficulties of being gay with a big dream. He has friends and family, he has foes, and he has to deal with homophobia. Harwood makes his movie debut on a powerful note, and I can’t wait to see what this young actor does next.
Among the supporting actors, Grant has his moments of hilarity and charisma, Ineson, Horgan, and Bottomley represent their characters’ homophobia on different levels (some change, others don’t), and both Lancashire and Patel both have hearts as the women who support Jamie’s dream. And when the mom tells the boy “What’s normal anyway?,” I was reminded of when my mom told me “there’s no such thing as normal.” It’s true. We are who we are, and that’s a fact.
Sure, we have to deal with some obligatory cynicism, but still, you admire the performances, and you admire the courage and spirit of the title character. And theater director Jonathan Butterell makes his movie debut with all the colors of the rainbow, and all the joys and inspirations of what was a true story.
In Select Theaters and Streaming on Amazon Prime