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Billy Elliot (2000)

Some dreams are worth pursuing regardless of the cost

Directed by:

Stephen Daldry

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 106 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Newcomer Jamie Bell plays Billy Elliot, an 11-year-old boy trying to grow up in the North of England during testing times. His mother has died, his grandmother needs constant care, and his family (along with the community in which he lives) are suffering through the turmoils of the infamous miners' strike – especially his father (Gary Lewis) and brother (Jamie Draven) who are both miners on strike. Although he is encouraged by his father to participate in boxing classes, it is the ballet class that shares the hall which fascinates him most.

With the encouragement of ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters), he joins in with the classes and starts to express himself through dance. However, it is not all plain sailing for Billy. He knows that his father and brother think of ballet as effeminate, and if they find out that he is dancing they will be furious. Things become even more complicated for him when Mrs Wilkinson suggests that he should audition for the Royal Ballet School, as that would mean leaving home and require money. It is the chance at a dream come true but, if Billy is to succeed, sooner or later he will need the support of his family – especially his father.

'Billy Elliot' is a touching film – a simple tale given power by strong performances from its cast. Jamie Bell is outstanding in the lead role, expressive and empathic, bringing Billy to life. Julie Walters is touching as the dance teacher who takes on the motherly role for Billy, and Gary Lewis and Jamie Draven are convincing as Billy's angry father and brother. There are no real surprises in the plot – this is unashamedly a happy-ending, coming-of-age, pursue-your-dreams drama, but the handling of it is remarkable and the characters sympathetic.

It's Got: An astonishing performance from newcomer Jamie Bell and superb guidance from first-time director Stephen Daldry.

It Needs: A bit more technique to the dancing that Mrs Wilkinson teaches Billy.

DVD Extras The featurette is particularly interesting. I would have liked to see a director’s commentary with this film. Breaking Free featurette, Theatrical trailer, Cast and film biographies, Interactual production notes. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Bend it like Beckham, Sweet Sixteen, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones

Summary

Outstanding performances make this one of the best British films to date. Men and women both will find it touching, funny and enriching.

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