← Back to Reviews

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliott is an enchanting and exuberant film that celebrates the joy and the passion of dance and how it can infuse anyone. Not since Footloose has a film so beautifully captured the passion and joy that can be experienced from the art of the dance. Billy is an ll-year old Irish boy who lives with his widowed father and older brother, who both work as coal miners. Billy is taking boxing lessons at a local gym but inexplicably finds himself drawn to a ballet class that is being taught on the other side of the gym and after taking a couple of classes, Billy has tapped into a real passion for the dance which he fights but cannot deny, despite having to initially attend class behind his family's back.

Eventually, with the encouragement of his teacher, who sees his passion after he takes his first class, Billy actually finds himself auditioning for a prestigious ballet academy, but this is not what this film is about. This film is not about the work and dedication it takes to dance or the roadblocks that can stand in your way nor is about it about the threatening of traditional gender stereotypes or about dancing being an indicator of sexual orientation, all of which are touched upon here, but this is not what this film is about. This film is about the pure joy of dancing and the passion that it can ignite inside a person.

Director Stephen Daldry has mounted an imaginative and infectious story on a truly original canvas. Lee Hall's screenplay loses the film points, primarily for its needless subplot involving a coal miner's strike which distracts from the enjoyment of the primary story being told.

Young Jamie Bell is nothing short of breathtaking in the title role, a riveting performance that should have earned him an Oscar nomination. The casting of Bell is inspired because he is not a dancer, further sustaining the film's underlying theme of someone who is not necessarily supposed to be a dancer, but has a passion for it that forces him to work at it. I love when Billy is walking out of his audition and one of the auditors asks him what it feels like when he's dancing and he replies, "It's like...electricity."

Julie Walters (Educating Rita) received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance as Billy's teacher, who recognizes the lack of technique in Billy but sees his passion more than makes up for it. Strong support is also provided from Gary Lewis and Jamie Draven as Billy's dad and brother, respectively (though their thick Irish brogues make them hard to understand at times). A warm and energetic film that will make your heart full. Later turned into a stage musical, also directed by Daldry.