Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 55 minutes, Director – Jonathan Butterell
16 year old Jamie (Max Harwood) dreams of becoming a drag queen, however his exploration into the world of performing begins to collide with many major events in his school life.
Sat in a careers class, encouraged to think about what he wants to do in the future after leaving school, 16 year old Jamie New (Max Harwood) scrolls through images relating to drag performance on his phone. He’s miles away – which his teacher Miss Hedge (Sharon Horgan) doesn’t seem to have much a problem with – as his interest in the world of drag is further lighting up. Soon, after receiving a pair of glittering red heels for his birthday, he makes the decision to go to his prom in drag – which when found out his teacher, having a sudden turnaround from the first scene into an utterly hateable (and unprofessional) figure, does have a problem with. Needing the confidence to do so he finds himself receiving help from costume shop owner Hugo (AKA Loco Chanel, AKA Richard E. Grant, who is clearly having a wonderful time being a part of this film) in building up performance skills, attending a local Sheffield drag show and, most importantly, coming up with a stage name.
As Jamie begins to delve further into the world of drag, his own personality and that of his stage persona begin to merge. Yet, the musical numbers that line the film, taken from the hit West End musical of the same name, kind of remain the same. They largely feel restricted to not just one setting, but also in the general way in which they pose themselves to the viewer. It feels that some songs are wanting to be belted out with shining, full-scale musical numbers. However, they come across not exactly as bland, but feeling as if they’re craving more freedom and space. It’s similar to the feeling that comes across in the more dramatic elements of the piece. Moments which don’t want to get in the way of the lighter tones that the film carries.
Jamie’s absent father (Ralph Ineson) rejects his son for not being conventionally ‘manly’, his mum (Sarah Lancashire) trying to make up for this by making up excuses and faking presents. This all happening while her son, who simply believes that his dad is often busy, is subject to frequent homophobic bullying at school, where his priorities appear to not be his exams. These points occasionally appear to be rather quiet throughout the film, mostly coming to the front in the final stages of the piece where everything begins to fall in on itself. The mix between the drama and the lightness collapses and things simply feel immediately tired and cheesy as the film rushes to wrap things up, yet not get across its final points too quickly.
Yet, despite such clashes which happen throughout the film there’s still some interest in the content as a whole. While it feels that there are a handful of moments which are reined in there’s still some amusement to be found within some of the musical numbers. Although, perhaps the biggest drawing factors come in the spoken scenes in-between, when things seem to have a bit more space and generally come across with a bit less visible restriction – Horgan performs one song while doing not much else other than walk down a school corridor. Much like its central character, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie wants to express itself, but doesn’t always have the freedom or ability to be able to do so in the way in which it seems to want.
There’s some interesting and likeable elements within Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. However, this adaptation does sometimes feel limited and reined in from fully bursting out during musical numbers and drama.