Director Stephen Daldry openly deals with homosexuality and
intentionally creates doubt surrounding Billy's sexuality thus
fuelling debate and discussion.
Jamie Bell as the young Billy Elliot is especially impressive as he manages the complex emotions his character goes through when his secret is discovered and his hopes are blocked. He's also outstanding at the dancing - managing not just to be great at it but also to show us a progression as he struggles to become that great and the effort it takes to keep it up.
Something does stop this just shy of being perfect, though it really is only marginally short of that. Possibly the tale at heart is too simple and the idea of the child struggling to become an adult is too familiar to make the story as good as the telling. But it's the best British movie for years - and certainly more movingly told than "The Full Monty".
In Billy Elliot, dance is at once an expression of yearning, and a symptom of frustration; Mrs Wilkinson is described as "unfulfilled - that's why she does dancing!" Julie Walters could so easily have given an over-egged and gamey performance as the gutsy mentor, and it is a measure of her intelligence as a performer and Daldry's assurance as a director, that her approach is kept within bounds. There is a very good sequence where she and Billy do a dance routine that she has devised for him to I Love to Boogie by T Rex: and this scene nicely complements a later moment where Billy does his own dance of rage in the street when his Dad forbids him to dance again.
It is a spontaneous choreography of frustration, which hovers between the world of realistic drama and the stylised world of the musical. But the action of Billy Elliot deepens as his father, at first infuriated, comes to accept his son's talent, and that some money must be found to enable him to audition for the Royal School. With a terrible clarity, it dawns on him that this means breaking the strike, and joining the cowering blacklegs who are bussed in through the picket lines every morning.
As the music plays the
director uses slow motion to make Billy jump in time to the music as
it shows us his feet only, this shows he would be good at dancing and
he has rhythm.
First it was Nicholas Hytner, Danny Boyle and Sam Mendes. Now Stephen Daldry is the latest British theatre veteran with a massive film success on his hands. The director of Billy Elliot talks to Andrew Pulver.
One of Britain's best-loved performers talks about her reasons for appearing in Billy Elliot, as well as her interest in politics and her first meeting with Victoria Wood
At 14, Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell is carrying the expectations of the British film industry on his narrow shoulders. If everything goes as planned, he will be knocked sideways by the adoration of 12-year-old girls and offers from Hollywood.
So from questioning his ballet-loving son's masculinity, Billy's dad arrives at his own male crisis. The use of the strike is very studied: the period of Billy's first timid dance steps to his fateful audition covers the strike period almost exactly. By casting this momentous and traumatic event in British history as a backdrop to a young boy's growing pains, Daldry is, arguably, open to the charge of sentimentalising intractable political issues - and from a feminist perspective, there is not much to cheer about in the story of a boy who turns out to be much better than all the girls, and entirely monopolises his teacher's attention.
Who would have thought that the next big thing to catch the popular imagination would be a boy doing ballet? Even now, centuries after men took up dancing, ballet is seen as much odder than blowing a brass instrument or stripping in a working men's club. Proper boys charge down the street with football boots slung around their neck: Billy Elliot must be a weirdo because his shoes have pink ribbons instead of laces.
He was born of parents Boris and Sarah Sidis, emigrant Jewswho escaped anti-Semitic Russian pogroms and came to America atthe end of the 19th century. William James Sidis ('Billy') boggledminds of normal intellectuals and theoreticians. He was born onApril Fool's Day in 1898. He became a strange combination of anApril Fool and a 20th century genius vastly beyond common sentientdiscernment.
In addition, Billy had several issues with the coach, he was not only an aggressive man with strict and regimented routines, he screams and yells all the time, often embarrassing him in front of everyone....
At a time when British cinema is littered with endless gangster movies, Billy Elliot, the story of a young dancer in a mining town, offers a blast of original film-making. Akin Ojumu hails Stephen Daldry's debut