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
Billy Elliot's original title was 'Dancer', but when they took the film to the Cannes Film Festival, there was another film called Dancer in the Dark (2000), which won the Palmes D'Or, prompting confusion; indeed, Universal Studios called the directors, producers and writer up and congratulated them. They then realized they had to change the name and settled ('rather lamely', joked the writer) on 'Billy Elliot'. See more »
Police cars shown during the miners strike confrontation scenes appear to be from around 10 years prior to the '84-'85 strike. See more »
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.
70 of 79 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?