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Billy Elliott  

Billy Elliott (Jamie Bell)
Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters)
Mr. Elliott (Gary Lewis)
Tony (Jamie Draven)

Directed by Stephen Daldry Written by Lee Hall

Rated R for language Running Time: 110 minutes Distributed by Universal
Billy Elliot
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Billy Elliott is a wonderful film full of heart-felt drama. The story takes place during the 1980ís in Northern England, and centers around an 11-year old boy named Billy (Bell). The life in Billyís home hasnít been well at all. His father (Lewis) and brother (Darven) are in the middle of a huge coal-minerís strike for better pay, his grandmother sometimes wonders off and Billyís mother has also recently passed away. Billyís father continuously insists that Billy take boxing lessons, even though the money is scarce. After being beat up and bored with boxing, Billy carefully slips into taking ballet class instead with a dedicated teacher in Mrs. Wilkinson (Walters). As weeks go on, the family gets poorer and Billyís love for ballet grows stronger. However, Billy understands that if his father knew he was taking ballet over boxing, he would come unglued. So Billy keeps his mouth shut and sets forth to hopefully find a way to prove he has a gift in ballet.

This is one of those great little movies that are touching and funny. The story of a young boyís discovery even though his family still struggles is exposed in an original and simple form.

Director Stephen Daldry captures some of the best visual shots of the year. His framework isnít anything of beautiful landscapes; it is of his characters true emotional feelings. Daldry mixes in subjective and objective shots that will have you crying without the actors uttering one word of dialogue. Choices like these are what I believe makes his filmmaking stable and dramatic. I will not go into details of the tremendous shots in this film, because it might stand as a spoiler. However, these visual storytelling shots are certainly some I will never forget.

Screenwriter Lee Hallís script is straightforward and pragmatic. Hallís plot points and devices appear clearly and give a nice flow to the sequencing and dialogue. The dialogue does contain excessive use of the F-word to add realism to the stressful coal-mining workers characters. I do understand the practicality of the language that Hall wrote in to the script. However, I believe Billy Elliott should have been rated PG-13 instead R. The filmís story is so strong that it didnít need to have the cursing in it. Also, since the film is rated R, teenagers cannot go see this film. In which, I believe this inspirational story would hold great ground and motivation for not only adults, but teenagers as well. Its too bad that the language of this film will hold back a teenage generation that needs to see a film like this one. Furthermore, Hall creates interesting characters to tell his story. An example is Billyís chain smoking and strict ballet teacher Mrs. Wilkinson. It is hard not to like this character.

The acting in this film is astounding, a powerhouse of feelings and emotions. Newcomer Jamie Bell, who plays Billy, delivers a fabulous performance and also proves he is a pretty good dancer as well. Gary Lewis, who plays Billyís strict father, delivers a terrific performance with fire and ice in his actions. Julie Walters serves up an Oscar worthy performance as Billyís eager ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson. Walters is extremely tolerant with her character, pacing every action one at a time.

Billy Elliott is a very pleasurable independent film that I highly recommend. The film is R, so youngsters cant go, but for everyone else donít miss this one.

Report Card Grade: A-

Beastmanís Movie Reviews
Copyright, 2000 Joseph C.Tucker

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