Billy Elliott: A real movie review
Billy Elliott - a must-see film
I'm compelled to write about this film for two reasons. The first is that it is one of the most often watched movies in our collection and the other is that there are some very strange reviews out there - I want to put the record straight.
Laugh and cry at this film
Like many of my favorites, this is a film that makes me laugh but invariably makes my eyes water too - no matter how many times I watch it.
The characters & location
The film is set in the north of England in the 1980s. Like another huge favorite (Brassed Off) it takes place in a coal mining community where the miners are on strike.
- Jackie Elliott - a widower and tough miner. He's tough, but you soon realize why
- Tony - his grown up son, also a miner out on strike
- Billy - Jackie's 11 year-old son. He's a tough lad; he has to be living where he does and with the upbringing he's had - you can't help but like the lad
- Sandra Wilkinson - a chain-smoking, straight-talking mum who teaches ballet for 50 pence (about a dollar) per pupil
Billy is given 50 precious pence by his dad every week to go to boxing classes. Billy accidentally discovers Mrs. Wilkinson's ballet class and she dares him to join in. Surrounded by giggling girls in their tutus, he does. To everyone's surprise, he likes it and he's good at it.
When his dad and brother discover this, they are appalled.
Lads don't dance, explains Jackie, they play football; ballet is for girls, not blokes. He's adamant.
But Mrs. Wilkinson has other plans.
Beware of spoilers
I would strongly advise you to avoid reading other reviews of this movie because they tend to a) be inaccurate and b) are spoilers.
See these videos for more
As always with English movies - bad language alert in some of them.
Let's start with the trailer.
I have to give a severe profanity alert for the clip below. The scene starts where Billy's ballet teacher has come to his home. His father is not well-pleased but his older brother is particularly furious.
Billy runs from the house and gets rid of his aggression and anger in the way he knows best. By dancing.
But maybe the dancing isn't what you think it will be. This is a must-watch. Terrific music too.
Who is this great kid?
That's something people often ask me. Jamie Bell, the boy who played the part, is - in many ways - Billy Elliott.
He's from the area in which the movie was set. He did start ballet classes at a young age and he was ridiculed by his schoolmates for doing do.
He was made for the part really.
But he was also a lovely, down to earth, funny kid. See this interview.
Now this is where I get on my soapbox
Look again at the cover of the DVD. Apart from 'one of the best movies of the year' the only other comment is 'funny'.
Yes,of course it has humour. It's about the North of England.We are funny up there, we can't help it. But this isn't a comedy film.
As well as exploring the stereotypes for men and women, this film reminds us about what life was like in that area in those days.
Watch the video below. Is that funny?
But, someone asked me, is it real? Surely things like that didn't happen? Oh yes they did. I can assure you that there is nothing in the scene that is exaggerated. Thousands of us saw scenes like that every day. Thousands of us had friends who were injured in the same way and bundled into police vans.
You'll enjoy this film - I guarantee it - but don't expect a comedy. Lighthearted moments? Yes. Silliness? Sometimes. Will you laugh out loud? Most probably.
But this film is absolutely not a comedy.
More recommended films from the north of England
You'll notice on the cover of Billy Elliot above that it's described simply as 'funny'. I don't know what these people are thinking. The film you see here is similar (and also about a striking mining community) and has humor AND drama.
This film, also set in Yorkshire, features another industry that failed in the later part of the twentieth century - the steel industry. Like the other two films on this page it shows the hardships that we Yorkshire people had to go through - but with our usual humor. If you have seen other versions of this - or of Billy Elliott - then you need to see the real thing.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson