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Movie Review

Billy Elliot

MPAA Rating: R for language

Reviewed by: Amber Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama Musical
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
October 12, 2000 (festival)
October 13, 2000 (limited)
Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot in “Billy Elliot”
Featuring: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Driven, Jean Heywood
Director: Stephen Daldry
Producer: John Finn, Greg Brenman, Jon Finn
Distributor: Universal Pictures

Dream. It is a beautiful five-letter word that is full of possibility, hope, and passion. We dream as children and continue to dream through life until those dreams materialize and become a real part of our lives. Sometimes, however, there are obstacles in our paths, and our dreams seem utterly out reach. “Billy Elliot” is a movie about an eleven-year old boy who has a big dream—he wants to dance. But the obstacles in Billy’s path are his rough, working-class family and his lack of money.

Billy’s father, Jack, and his older brother, Tony, are currently on strike at the town’s coal mines. While they busy themselves with rioting and plotting against their employer, Billy, who is supposed to be taking boxing lessons, stumbles upon a ballet class and becomes intoxicated with the art of dance. He begins to take private lessons from the tough, cigarette puffing ballet instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson. Billy’s passion swells and nears eruption, but when his father finds out, Jack Elliot’s pride is bruised, (he doesn’t want to have son who is a ballet dancer!) and he doesn’t have the money to finance Billy’s dancing education. It seems hopeless, but Billy holds to his dreams.

“Billy Elliot” is a grand film, but not without its flaws such as heavy profanity, some violence (riot scenes, a police chase, and rough, father-son conflicts) some homosexual undertones (Billy’s friend, not Billy himself), and a very brief, minor scene of nudity, as a distant man moons the police from which he is fleeing. There are morality issues in “Billy Elliot” as in any film that is created by a secular film maker. The story is worth watching, it’s just the touches of our secular society that makes some scenes of “Billy Elliot” a little bitter to digest. However, it is a film that can be appreciated by mature teenagers (17+) and adults and inspires its viewers to hold fast to their dream, no matter what obstacle lay in their path.


Viewer Comments
Negative—I found the language very offensive. I really could not appreciate what was happening in the movie because of the language. I also found the movie a bit depressing. This could be because the commercial clips made it look like it would be very funny. My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—K, age 40, non-Christian
Neutral—This is a gritty movie about a family dealing with great loss and poverty, among other things. Once I got used to the strong accents and the slang—and got by the frequent use of the “f” word—I found it to be a direct, emotionally real movie. The family seemed to be stabilized and restored to somewhat of a degree by the discovery of Billy’s talent, but it was a sad commentary on the dysfunction that seemed so prevalent in his life and in the life of his friends. This movie does not shy away from the difficult things in life, but I did not find some of the factors particularly necessary. My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Sheila, age 36
Negative—Didn’t appreciate the homosexual subtext either. For how much praise I heard about this film, I was very disappointed. Technically it was fine, but I just didn’t enjoy the story overall. Not recommended. My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Tim, age 28
I would highly recommend “Billy Elliot”, but with some reservations. Although I felt it was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while, I did wonder why it was necessary to make Billy’s friend homosexual. It was not an essential element in the story line even though Billy was accused of being gay because he liked to dance. Aside from this and the strong language (lots of “F” words) the film is beautiful to watch and has some very tender and emotional moments. The characters of Billy, his father, and his dance teacher are all first rate and provide examples of determination, love, and friendship. The performance of Jamie Bell is wonderful. He is a natural and makes it easy to feel Billy’s passion to dance and to cheer for his hope of a better future. My Ratings: [3/4]
—David, age 48
There was a strong homosexual subtext to this movie. Billy is thought to be a “poof”—which he denies—since he is interested in “bally”. Billy rejects the inappropriate advances of a young girl, perhaps because he is shy. But his best friend is gay and aggressively comes onto him, which Billy questions, but does not reject. He later dances with his cross-dressing gay friend, and the audience is left to wonder what the point is. The inappropriate child-sexual situations in this movie clearly earn it an R rating. My Ratings: [1/2]
—Dean and Laura VanDruff, age 30 and 40
I really enjoyed this film! Growing up in southern England during the miners strike meant that I could relate in some ways to Billy. I remebered watching the buses of miners going into to the mines and being pelted with fruit and eggs etc. I think the film was realistic in its portrayal of life in the North of England in the 1980’s. There is a lot of swearing, which did seem to be a little bit unnecessary sometimes. There are lots of issues raised in this, but the message of loving each other without prejudice does come through loud and clear. I would recommend this film, if you don’t mind the bad language. My Ratings: [3/4]
—Jo Stubberfield, age 28
A very good film. It really made us think about children growing up in poverty, and how fortunate we are. There was a lot of swearing, and some pretty rude bits, but overall a great film about doing what you want/are meant for, despite other peoples oppinions, and about self sacrifice. I really enjoyed it. My Ratings: [2½/4]
—Jo, age 19
Movie Critics
…Audiences can easily fall in love with this sweet, endearing movie and the fantastic performance from young Bell…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…About 48 F-words, several anatomical slang terms, lots of scatological references, several mild obscenities, and a few insults…
—Kids-in-Mind
…non-explicit, sexually related talk occurs between a prepubescent boy and girl, another boy is a transvestite and seems to be gay…
—ScreenIt!