Review by Sean Boelman
Based on the musical that became a hit on the West End, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the latest in the line of LGBTQ-centric movie musicals. And while the film largely plays it safe, its undeniably joyous and crowd-pleasing nature are infectious, making this an absolutely wonderful movie to watch.
The film follows a high school student from England who dreams of becoming a drag queen. The story is pretty much exactly what one would expect, with the protagonist embracing his own sexuality while dealing with homophobic bullies at the same time, but this tale of standing out is so earnest that it doesn’t really matter.
For the most part, the songs in the movie are catchy and sweet, if not particularly memorable. All of the numbers are fun to watch, although it is unlikely to be a soundtrack that lends itself to repeat listening on car rides. There is also a bit of an over-rehearsed feel to these scenes, more so than other movie musicals, but the strength of the central performers allows it to work.
That said, there is one musical number that is an absolute show-stopper, and that is Richard E. Grant’s solo number “This Was Me”. In a heartbreaking ode to those who lived through the height of the AIDS crisis, Grant gives one of the best supporting turns of the year by infusing his role with an insane amount of emotion.
In addition to Grant, there are some really strong performances in the cast. Making his film debut, Max Harwood is great as the eponymous lead. He sings his heart out in every song and is thoroughly charming. Sarah Lancashire, Sharon Hogan, and Ralph Ineson all have supporting roles and are quite good.
Jamie’s arc follows the predictable path, but has a lot of really resonant beats. Unlike a lot of movies about gay youth, this isn’t a coming out story. Jamie already embraces who he is, he’s just trying to make the world recognize it, and that is an equally important story to be told. On the other hand, there is very little complexity to the supporting characters, who all fill their designated archetype.
Director Jonathan Butterell (who also directed the stage production of the show) doesn’t do a whole lot to make the movie feel all that cinematic, but the power of the source material still shines through. A few scenes attempt to do something ambitious, although the film doesn’t quite have the budget it would take to pull it off entirely.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is going to hit a lot of familiar beats, but it will still win viewers over. It’s one of the most uplifting movies of the year thanks to its wonderful story and brilliant performances.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie hits Amazon Prime on September 17.