Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters), a chain-smoking, tough old broad, becomes aware of Billy's talent during their many secret lessons together and encourages him to try out for the royal ballet school, but first Billy must fight the disapproval of his hard-headed, disciplinarian father (Gary Lewis) and the traditional English community.
All of "Billy Elliot"'s characters act and feel like real people, and instead of demonizing the people opposing Billy, the film sensitively portrays their point of view. Jamie Bell gives a great performance here as Billy, who will be the first to tell you that he's NOT a "poof," but the real stand-out is Gary Lewis as the dad, Jackie Elliot.
Instead of making the dad a bigoted a***ole like most movie's would have done, the script creates Jackie as a multifaceted, rough and tumble miner past his prime, who believably makes the transition from skepticism to acceptance of his son's passion for the ballet.
In fact, I can't think of a single bad performance in this whole movie -- everybody excels in their roles. The script is also good, making events that could seem contrived plausible through believable plot and character development. The only plot point I had trouble with is the ending. Not to reveal anything (bad movie-spoiling critic!) but I don't know if the ballet school really would have made the decision that it did. I also think that despite the R rating, older kids and teens should enjoy this and doubtfully will be traumatized by the mild adult content.
There's some language on display here, but if you're like my 9-year-old sister (who watched the movie with me and thoroughly enjoyed it), you've heard worse at home. And if you have a family member like my brother (who screams continuous strings of obscenities over his X-Box all day), this film's realistically rough dialogue will seem absolutely quaint.
This movie has been adapted into a stage play, but I probably wouldn't go see it, seeing as little Billy's all grown up now and I can't picture anyone but Jamie Bell playing the role. I know, but I am denying myself a great experience. But when others go to the play, I will pop in the DVD and watch Jamie Bell- forever young, forever dancing, and I will never regret it.