Billy Elliot

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Julie Walters, Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis
Director: Stephen Daldry

How would you like to see a movie about an eleven-year-old boy who, against all odds, wants to become a ballet dancer? Doesn’t sound very appealing but this is one movie that turns out to be a gem with its enjoyable mix of gritty drama and comedy. Unlike the current trend of Brit movies, this one has more in common with Little Voice and the classic Kes than Snatch.

Set in 1984 North-West England during the miners strike, we find Billy, played by the impressive Jamie Bell, taking care of his grandmother, who is not all there, and going to boxing lessons after school with the scarce money his father has due to the fact he is one of the picket line striking miners. While not the best boxer going, Billy is punished to stay after practice one evening to improve his boxing. Sharing the gym hall while their own hall is redecorated, the ballet class led by Mrs. Wilkinson, played by the superb Julie Walters, persuades the curious Billy Elliot to join the class. While not really knowing why he enjoys it, Billy takes the classes seriously and with Mrs. Wilkinson’s encouragement, she gets him to audition for a place at the Royal Ballet School.

In the meantime, Billy comes across some obstacles in the shape of his father and his brother. Due to their working class background, they try to drill it into Billy that ballet is not a normal thing for a boy to do if he wants to become a man.

The interesting thing about this movie is that while this part of the storyline is true, it was the kids he went to school with that teased him, when young Jamie Bell started dancing. One of the reassuring things about this movie is that there is an underlying lesson about growing up, of both the adults concerned and Billy’s friends.

You don’t have to appreciate ballet to enjoy this movie; some of the dance movies incorporate moves that look like they were taken from early 80’s dance movies like Footloose and Flashdance.

Definitely one of the best movies of the year.

6 out of 6 stars