Hey guys, so this weekend I re-watched one of my favourite films, Billy Elliot, a heartwarming and feel-good film that always leaves me feeling inspired and relaxed. I’m sure many of you have heard of the musical made after the film’s release, but I’ll give a brief overview of the plot. Billy, played by 14 year-old Jamie Bell, is an eleven year-old boy living in Durham in 1984 with his father (Gary Lewis), brother Tony (Jamie Draven) and Grandma (Jean Heywood). His mother died of unknown reasons, though during the film the audience are made to feel her presence with a piano based theme dedicated to her and a few scenes showing the effect of her death on Billy. Billy soon finds a passion for dance, specifically ballet, which his mining family resent when they find out, leading to some tense and emotional scenes when the family must accept Billy’s talent and allow him to pursue his dream in a time when it wasn’t accepted well.
One of the reasons why this is one of my favourite films is the fantastic soundtrack and editing that fits the movie’s themes of family, ambitions and dance perfectly. For example, the opening scene features T Rex’s Cosmic Dancer played over our protagonist, Billy, jumping on his bed and we immediately identify with him and his passion. As for Billy, I think Jamie Bell was absolute perfect casting; Jamie is very believable in the film and carries the emotional scenes very well, especially the terrific on-screen chemistry he shares with his ballet teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, also played brilliantly by Julie Walters. The relationship that forms between them is both heartwarming and hilarious at moments.
Of course, the dancing is the main highlight of the film with fantastic choreography, bringing out the best out of the actors. Personally, my favourite scene in the film has to be the ‘angry dance’, when the family find out about Billy’s passion, cutting to a terrific dance montage in which the precise editing of the dancing and Jamie’s amazing performance creates a very well timed and emotionally engaging scene. There are many other scenes that easily stick out in my head, with many hilarious lines becoming more memorable very time I watch, like when Mrs Wilkinson is getting frustrated at Billy and he replies “Don’t lose your blob!”, always getting a laugh out of me. There are loads of other one liners and witty comments that get a laugh or two. However, the film does have a 15 rating because of the strong language consistently used by the adults and the children, so it’s definitely not for kids!
What also keeps me returning is the drama and wonderful acting from everyone involved. Gary Lewis as the father has the best character arc in the film. At first, he has the stereotypical ‘masculine’ view that his son should have nothing to do with a ‘girl’s’ hobby, but over the course of the film his opinion shifts as he realises how much talent Billy has and is willing to do anything to let him fulfil his dream. Julie Walters as the dance teacher also delivers a wonderful performance as always, balancing a strict head-strong woman with a caring one perfectly and a couple of the scenes with her and Jamie either bring a tear to my eye or leave me feeling moved and emotional. It’s a typical drama and an emotional roller-coaster, but one done very well. Directer Stephen Daldry managed to get the best performances out of the actors whilst also ensuring they were well rounded and developed.
The final scene of course is one of the best I’ve ever seen, very operatic and engaging. It shows Billy as a young man dancing the lead in Swan Lake as his emotionally overwhelmed father watches his son’s debut. The film finishes before we see the full dance, which is a little disappointing, but I’ve always loved the final shot of Billy leaping into the air with a quick cut to his father’s emotional expression before we see the jump in a long shot. The film overall is edited very well.
So I may have overally praised the film 🙂 and there are a couple odd plot choices that I’ve never understand, such as why Mrs Wilkinson doesn’t turn up to Billy’s debut performance? But, overall, Billy Elliot is a heartwarming, hilarious, thought-provoking and engaging film which has brilliant cinematography, a moving score and top notch acting from all the cast. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys feel-good, inspiring films and obviously Julie Walters is always a win for me 😉