Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Directed by Jonathan Butterell

Screenplay by Tom MacRae, based on the play “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae

Starring Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Guliati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Samuel Bottmley, Sharon Horgan, Richard E. Grant

Watching Jonathan Butterell’s “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” unfold, I couldn’t help but think back to a childhood favorite of mine, Tears For Fears’ “Shout.” It quietly served as an anthem for me to ‘shout, shout let it all out these are the things I can do without Come on, I’m talking to you, come on.’ Of course, I’m not Jamie New, a platinum-blonde 16-year-old who feels comfortable in women’s clothing and is too afraid to take the next step. Yet, the anthem applies to Jamie just as equally. Through the course of Tom MacRae’s adaptation of the hugely popular West End play of the same name, Jamie finds the courage to bring his inner self out.

Butterell infuses song and comedy as Jamie sashays his way through the story. Max Harwood stars as Jamie in his feature film debut. His sassiness and cheekiness shone through like a spotlight. But, Harwood is a generous actor, giving way to his co-stars.

Jamie is a hard working teenager, saving up for a pair of red shoes that he’s dreamed of having, and nothing is held back.  He’s got a loving, if sometimes overbearing mother in Sarah Lancashire’s Margaret New. Their relationship is strong and you can feel its electricity through the screen. Lauren Patel plays Pritti Pasha, Jamie’s best friend in school. If anyone truly understands Jamie’s struggles, it is Pritti. Patel’s intelligent,  respectful performance and is as courageous as Hardwood’s is as Jamie.

MacRae infuses a good deal of bullying, not just from Dean Paxton (Samuel Bottomley), who would be the equivalent of a high school jock, but from his teacher, Miss Hedge (Sharon Horgan) and the oafish principal Mr. Masood (Adeel Akhtar).

The film uses the bullying to carry the story forward, and Jamie takes it in hilarious stride, dishing it out equally as much as receiving it. He has an armored shield about him, but when it comes to the prom, he wants to attend in as his new identity, sending shockwaves through school.

Harwood and Butterell work to make Jamie the center of attention, however they use that energy to drive a story of hopes and dreams and sometimes, even reality.

One actor who does manage to steal the show, as he always does is the brilliant Richard E. Grant as Hugo Battersby, the local shop owner conveying women’s attire. Hugo becomes a source of inspiration and a supporting lift in Jamie’s ambitions of becoming a drag queen. And, my does Grant look gorgeous in drag, out Tim Currying Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”)

No pun was intended or harmed in my next statement however the flow drags just a bit as the story hits a dour note when Jamie sorts out his emotions over his nearly non-existent dad, played by Ralph Ineson. Jamie finds his way forward, armed with all the knowledge and courage he needs to rule the day.

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is full of song, for which Harwood provided the vocal energy and an uncommon sensibility with Jamie’s desire to be a drag queen. The scenes between Harwood and Grant are the stuff of legends. Butterell moves the story as best he can, however the ambition and energy collide in the middle of the second act, only to have it pick back up in the touching third act.

Playing for one week, exclusively in Phoenix at Harkins Camelview, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” will land on Amazon Prime on September 17th. Whether you see it in the theater or you have it on in the background, the cockney accents and impactful songs will have your feet tapping throughout. Check it out!

PG-13, 115 minutes, Amazon Studios