Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com: Foursquare in
the gritty-but-heartwarming tradition of
The Full Monty
comes Billy Elliot, the first film from noted British theatrical
The setting is County Durham in 1984, and things "up north" are even
grimmer than usual: the miners' strike is in full rancorous swing, and
11-year-old Billy's dad and older brother, miners both, are on the
picket lines. Billy's got problems of his own. His dad has scraped
together the fees to send him to boxing lessons, but Billy has
discovered a different aptitude: a genius for ballet dancing. Since
admitting to such an activity is tantamount, in this fiercely macho
culture, to holding up a sign reading "I AM GAY," Billy keeps it quiet.
But his teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie
undaunted), thinks he should audition for ballet school in London.
Family ructions are inevitable.
Daldry's film sidesteps some of the politics, both sexual and otherwise,
but scores with its laconic dialogue (credit to screenwriter
and a cracking performance from newcomer
as Billy. His powerhouse dance routines, more
than Nureyev, carry an irresistible sense of exhilaration and
self-discovery. Among a flawless supporting cast,
stands out as Billy's sweet gay friend Michael. And if the miners'
strike serves largely as background color, the brief episode when
visored and truncheon-wielding cops rampage through neat little terraced
houses captures one of the most spiteful episodes in recent British
history. --Philip Kemp