County Durham, during the endless, violent 1984 strike against the Thatcher closure of British coal mines. Widower Jackie Elliot and his firstborn, fellow miner Tony, take a dim view of 11 year-old second son Billy's poor record in boxing class, which worsens when they discover he sneakily transferred to the neighboring, otherwise girls-only-attended ballet class. Only one schoolmate, closet-gay Michael Caffrey, encourages Billy's desire, aroused by the teacher, who judged him talented enough for private lesson, to train and try out for the world-renowned Royal Ballet audition. Only the prospect of a fancy career unimagined in the pauper quarter may twist pa and big brother's opposition to indispensable support. Written by
Jamie Bell was going through puberty at the time of filming. Some of his dialog had to be post-synched as his voice had broken. And the opening scene in which he jumps up and down on a bed to T. Rex's "Cosmic Dancer" was shot over a lengthy period of time. For the latter takes, Bell had acquired hair on his legs and had to have them shaved. See more »
When the dance teacher goes into Billy's house to confront his family about the audition at the Royal Ballet School, you can hear 'Tellytubbies', a daytime children's programme on the TV in the background. 'Tellytubbies' was first aired in 1997, some 13 years after when the film was set. See more »
[Billy falls to an opponent at boxing]
Jesus Christ, Billy Elliot! You're a disgrace to them gloves, your father, and the traditions of this boxing hall!
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With a seemingly run-of-the-mill storyline - that of an 11-year-old schoolboy wanting to be a ballet dancer - it is quite a feat to have made a movie as warm and entertaining as this.
Quite simply, this is the best British movie in years. All the characters are intriguing, and the acting is flawless, most notably from 14-year-old Jamie Bell whose acting is utterly convincing, filled with humour and insight beyond his years. He is also a fantastic dancer, and some of the dance sequences are reminiscent of the dance-filled musicals of the old black and white movies.
The backdrop of the historic miners' strike of the mid-1980s, it brings the story down to the earth and adds the necessary tension to make this film truly believable and a worthy story to tell.
I find it hard to see how anyone would not like this film. 9 and a half out of 10.
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