Sunday, August 4, 2013

Billy Elliot (2000)

   Inspirational but never maudlin, "Billy Elliot" practically soars with unforgettable characters and compassionate storytelling. Working-class 11-year-old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), whose family and home life is directly affected by the striking miner's demands for better pay, discovers his passion for dance when he is at a boxing lesson (which he hates) and stumbles upon a ballet class.

   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.




  1. I love this one! Jamie Bell is such a charming actor.

  2. My family loved Billy Elliot too. It inspired my son to take ballet for a few years before he switched to martial arts. I found the Royal Ballet audition interesting, considering the intensity of it. I know of some kids that got into the American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center and they seemed to be eager to take any boy who showed an interest.

    You do great reviews by the way! I've put a few on my "To Watch" list because of your--or your mom's--reviews.

    Peace and Laughter!

  3. I have yet to see this film, although it's on my must see list. It sounds like such an inspirational story. Great review, Sarah! Thank you for your insight.

  4. Great review! This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Like you, I love the fact that they didn't take the easy way out and portray Billy's dad and brother in a harsh, one-dimensional way.


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