Review: Everybody's Talking About Jamie makes successful leap from stage to screen

Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the Billy Elliott-esque movie about a gay teenager who wants to go to his school prom in drag has finally hit screens in New Zealand thanks to Amazon Prime Video.

Before I get to the film itself, I want to take you back to 2019 when I first heard about Jamie.

I had just arrived in London. Posters with Jamie's name and face were all over the Underground. I had no idea who Jamie was, or why people were apparently talking about him, so I jumped online to get some answers.

The colourful posters were promoting a musical which had just started at one of London's many theatres. 

Everybody's Talking About Jamie, it was called. 

Of course they're talking about him, I thought. You can't walk anywhere without seeing his face. I kept reading about it online.

"A catchy, high-energy musical about a boy who wants to be a drag queen," one reviewer had written. 

I was sold.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
Jamie and his best friend, Pretti. Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

Just a few hours later I was walking out of the show, singing the songs in my head, carrying a programme and CD soundtrack.

I was a fan.

Back to 2021 and the release of the Everybody's Talking About Jamie movie.

The story is based on the real-life events of Jamie Campbell, who just like his namesake grew up gay in a small British town with an uncontrollable urge to become a drag superstar.

Jamie, played by Max Harwood, battles the barriers that start to go up when he announces he wants to go to the school prom in drag.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
Sarah Lancashire plays Jamie's mum. Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

Just a day or so before the movie came out (unintentional pun) I spoke to Harwood about the film, and he said while his childhood was very different to his character's, he could strongly identify with Jamie's school struggles.

"At the heart of it, I was a queer kid at high school wanting to be a creative, so that's where our parallels lie," he said.

Being a 16-year-old and getting into the drag scene, Jamie creates waves at school and at home, and some of those waves threaten to take him down. The movie deals with Jamie's relationship with his father and his adorable mother, played by Sarah Lancashire, who Kiwis will likely remember as Raquel from Coronation Street in the 1990s.

A note to any mothers with gay sons out there: You'll need tissues for the song 'He's my Boy'. Consider yourself warned. Having said that, any gay sons reading this will probably also get misty-eyed when Jamie performs 'Wall in My Head'.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie.
"Stop waiting for permission to be you". Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

"It's important that we didn't book-end it with a happy and definitive ending, you know, winning the dad around because you know that's not life," Harwood said about Jamie's difficult relationships.

While the movie does have some serious moments, it is also jam packed with fun pop songs and witty one-liners from both Jamie and his best friend Pritti Pasha.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is on Amazon Prime now while the soundtrack (which you will want after seeing the movie) is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

It's well worth the watch and is probably going to be my movie pick of the year.