Sunday, July 10, 2016

Billy Elliot

Movie Name: Billy Elliot
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Stuart Wells, Jean Heywood, Jamie Draven, Joe Renton
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

"Billy Elliot" was Stephen Daldry's debut film, after a celebrated theater career, and was an auspicious debut for the talented film maker (the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, amongst many other recognitions). The film, written by Lee Hall, follows the story of Billy Elliot, an 11 year old boy from a small village in England. Billy lives with his widowed father, older brother and his grandmother, who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Billy's father sends him to the gym to learn boxing, but he accidentally discovers a ballet lesson while there (they're using the gym on a loan), and without his father's knowledge, Billy starts taking classes, under the supervision of the strong willed Mrs. Wilkinson. When his father discovers these developments, an immediate whirlwind of reactions comes about, but eventually there's a realization that Billy's talent may be in dance after all.
"Billy Elliot" is a film that manages to be simultaneously endearing, heartwarming and socially conscious. Stephen Daldry successfully creates a vivid rendering of what was like to live in England during the early 80s, and the struggles that were being felt by the vast majority of the working class. On top of this, there's a layer of whimsicality, brought on by the power of music and dance, and how art can salvage a life in the middle of the most dire circumstances. It's a film that looks at prejudices, and presents a realistic approach of how they are tackled, and is indeed a story about the power of perseverance and belief. Even if the film does have some recognizable cliches, such as the stoic father, the strong willed teacher and a few others, in the end it brims with energy and joy that is impossible to deny. It's a film that celebrates art and dreams, with wonderful performances from Jamie Bell, Julie Walters and Gary Lewis. A very good film always worth revisiting.