Review by Jessica Brandt
Once a year, I like to go and see a British film. This is about as far as I go when it comes to foreign films, and I find them even tougher to watch than say, French films, because they are hard to understand yet they don't have subtitles. Previously, I've seen The Full Monty, Brassed Off!, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which leads me to believe that everyone in England is poor and works "down at 'mill."
Billy Elliot (played by the darling Jamie Bell) is a 12-year-old boy who is growing up in a mining town during the miners strike of 1984. His mother is dead, and he lives in a small house with his father, older brother, and grandmother. Both dad and brother are striking miners, which means the family is poor yet tough as nails.
Billy is enrolled in boxing lessons at the local rec club, along with most other miners' sons. He's small and weak, and not a very good boxer. One day, he observes the girl's ballet class which is held in the same building and is awefully drawn to the dancing. At first we suspect it might be his adolescent "stirrings," but he truly is interested in dancing. Soon, he drops boxing in order to join the dance class. The instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters) thinks Billy has a lot of talent and pushes him to dance his little buns off. Not quite in the same spirit as Fame, but he sure has to work hard. Not only that, but he has to sneak around, hiding his "femenine" obsession from his manly father and brother.
Once the older Elliot men find out, all hell breaks loose. Billy misses his chance to try out for the Royal Dance Academy because his brother is arrested for rioting and the family doesn't have enough money for the trip to London.
Come Christmastime, Billy is still dancing. His father finally ses Billy dance and ... well, does he support his son or no? This is the turning point in the movie, where Billy makes or breaks it, so I won't spoil it for you.
Definitely a cute movie with a lot of inspiration for the kids (except they can't see it, due to Billy's brother's foul mouth) and every some teary-eyed moments and humor for the adults. At time, the movie seems kind of predictible and drags until it's about 75% over, and then comes to a really great head. I'm sure you've read other reviewd that describe it as "Delightful" and "Poignant" and I'm sure I agree.
A very small yet very cute part of the movie is Billy's adorable little friend, Michael (Stuart Wells.) He's got the most beautiful eyes and the figure of a little girl, so it's no wonder he likes to dress up in women's clothing when no one's home. "Me dad does it, only when he thinks he's alone," he tells Billy. Their friendship doesn't play that important of a role in the film, but develops throughout as Billy falls further from his family.
Definitely a must-see for this year's Good Lower-Class British Film of the year. If you like movies about little kids, bring a tissue.
(Out of five)