Based on the real-life story of 16-year-old Jamie, who on his 16th birthday is given by his mother what he most desires, a pair of red, sparkly stilettos. Jamie (Max Horwood) likes to dress in girl’s clothes and most of his classmates seem to accept him. He has one particular friend, Pritti (Lauren Patel), who wears a hijab and is very bright. She gets called nasty names and is glad to have Jamie as her best friend as they are both seen as being ‘different.’ When the cast sing Everybody’s talking about Jamie, the bully, Dean, doesn’t join in.
Although Jamie’s mother, Margaret (Sarah Lancashire) along with her best friend, Ray (Shobna Gilati) is very supportive of her son, his father (Ralph Ineson) is a horror. Dad wants Jamie to be like him and other males – keen on football and thoroughly macho.
“You disgust me” he says to his son when he hears about Jamie in a dress and on stage in a drag show.
Jamie’s intended prom dress is even more outrageous than anything he has worn before. He is told by his main teacher (Sharon Horgan) that he will not be allowed into the dance if he comes dressed in female clothes. Encouraged by his mother and Rae he turns up at the prom in his lovely dress and is barred by the staff member. The response of his classmates is astonishing.
The songs back up the dialogue and are part of the action, not separate from it. Mum has a good musical voice and her solo, If I met myself again is heart-warming. There is good choreography which fits in well with the songs. Lauren Patel gives Pritti full voice and is a nice little actress. Richard E Grant gives a stupendous performance as Hugo, a former drag queen who becomes Jamie’s mentor and helps prepare him for the life of a drag queen which is what he says he wants to be. Grant performs a song, This was me, which is most affecting in giving a short summary of the gay community in the past. Max Horwood gives a very special performance as Jamie – his look, movement and voice seem absolutely correct.
In the interval of the performance of the musical onstage that I attended, I spoke to the real Jamie who is now in his early 20s and enjoys watching the show. He spoke of his close relationship with his mother and also said he hopes to do more TV!
The film is a must-see!
In cinemas and on Amazon Prime.