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Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Everybody’s TalkIng About Jaime : an exuberant queer Brit musical that everybody will love to talk about

 

Everybody will really be talking about Jaime the moment they see this feel-good queer coming-of-age movie that is such an excellent adaption of the hit West End Musical. It’s an exuberant gay fairy tale of a 16-year-old teenager from a blue-collar northern British town who overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies, and steps out of the darkness to become a drag queen.

All based on a true story which was the subject of a 2011 television documentary,  which was then developed into a stage musical by Dan Gillespie Sells and  Tom MacRae in 2017.  This however is not a coming-out-tale as the fiercely confident Jamie has never hidden his sexuality from his doting and supportive mother (a superb Sarah Lancashire).  She actually throws him a party to celebrate his 16th birthday and presents him with a pair of the red sparkly glammed-up version of ‘Dorothy’ shoes.  

His father left home some years back and is now re-married and about to have another son.  Jamie still imagines a close relationship with him, but the reality is his homophobic father is bitterly ashamed of his gay son and wants to have nothing to do with him

At school Jamie is both out and proud so  even the  taunts of the class bully Dean (Samuel Bottomley)  do not phase him “Yeah, I’m gay, what of it?”   His teacher Miss Hedge (Sharon Horgan) will jump to Jamie’s defense but at the same time, she throws cold water on his ambitions to be an entertainer ie drag queen.

Like seemingly every young gay lad, Jaime’s best friend is Pritti Pasha (Lauren Patel) a mousey studious girl who as a Muslim is not supposed to approve of any of his outrageous behavior. She does however agree to accompany him dress shopping for a gown to wear to School Prom.

So they head for the Loco Chanelle drag couture store in town, and it’s Jamie’s encounter with the veteran proprietor, non-other than “Miss Chanelle’ herself, that will turn out to be a major life-changing moment. for him  ‘Loco’ (a real scene-stealing performance by Richard E Grant) not only wants to share the glories of his past stardom but also wants to school Jamie in the very essence of being a good drag queen.  It’s not just the stunning red dress he lets him have but the encouragement to believe that he too can be a diva.

The scene with Loco is also significant as the music track being sung is by Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes To Hollywood) and is the one melancholic song in the whole piece. It’s a recap not only of the story of the effects of the AIDS crisis on the queer community but also of the loss of Loco’s major love of his life at that time.  Kudos for fitting this into a film that will inevitably be watched by many queer people too young to have experienced any of this at first hand.

Of course, we know this film will turn out to have a happy-ever-after-ending but there are some joyous parts of the journey there that will also keep the emotions running high.  Like the entire school coming to Jamie’s defense when it looks like he will not be admitted to the Prom wearing a dress.  Or his debut performance at a local Drag Bar when Dean and his cohorts fail to ruin the show.

There is also the extremely close relationship that Jamie’s mother has with her best girlfriend Ray (Shobna Gulati), a surrogate auntie to Jamie. It’s totally non-sexual but is a definite nod to the unconventionality of possible alternative families.

This very joyous wee movie is the work of the original stage director Jonathan Butterell and choreographer Katie Prince who both reprise those roles.  They fill the whole two hours with such unbridled energy and enthusiasm that bring the foot-tapping pop songs so alive. Even more importantly theirs is a fairy story that we find we can both love and totally believe in.

They have also introduced the world to a new star in Max Harwood who we cannot wait to see more of. His Jaime is to drag what Billy Elliot was to dance  Butterell and Prince have also so succinctly shown how much better a movie the very disappointing The Prom should/could have been in they had helmed it.  

Take note Ryan Murphy the days of over-formulizing every movie adaption is so over.  So too is miscasting of inept famous actors such as James Corden, James Corden, and James  Corden.

Everybody's Talking About Jaime will be released by 20th Century Studios in select movie theaters/cinemas 
in the US and UK on Sept 10th, and then on Amazon Prime on Sept 17th 2021

 

P.S. You can still see the original documentary that told the true story of the real-life Jamie Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 on Amazon Prime


Posted by queerguru  at  17:52

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Genres:  comedy, coming of age, musicals

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