Oct 2, 2010

Billy Elliot (2000) - you dance, I weep, deal?

directed by Stephen Dauldry / starring Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis

Oh boy... Billy Elliot is definitely one of my favourite films - not that that's saying a lot, because I keep claiming that about every other movie I mention. But as I watched this yesterday I thought I maybe should promote it to my Ultimate Favourite Movies. (Though if I'm not careful that category begins to suffer from inflation, too.)

Billy Elliot is set in Northern England, in the 1980s, during the Miner's Strike. Billy is an 11-year-old boy, whose family is tense and scattered not only by the strike, but also by a recent loss of one its members, the mother. In these hard time Billy is granted 50 pence each week to go to boxing, like his father and grandfather did. One day he wanders to a ballet class, held in the same gym, and before he knows it, he's in there with the girls doing pliés. The teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson immidiately spots the boys potential and keeps encouraging him to practise, despite the sternly negative opinion of his father.

Billy is an awesome little boy. Since his mother died, he's been forced to grow up fast, and he's a bit lost with everything, angry and confused. In dancing he finds a way of expressing himself, his feelings and frustrations.  Billy is played by Jamie Bell, the lovely, lovely Jamie Bell, to whom I sold my heart when I first saw the film, and still haven't demanded a refund. Once in a while he gives that warm, mischevious smile and oh boy, I feel I want to be eleven too so that I can have a crush on him. I hope Jamie keeps on acting and getting good roles - King Kong and Flags of Our Fathers were good reminders of why he's so capable of steeling people's hearts. (I don't know if he's still dancing, but if he is, I'd pay my rest of the year's Study Grants to see him do that again.)

Julie Walters is also a great actress, I like her a lot and she's perfect as the strict, outspoken Mrs. Wilkinson, who seldom has time or energy to sentimentalities. I like the relationship she forms with Billy, how they yell at each other and act all indifferent, but still they share a mutual respect and honesty. Their first private training session, with the letter ("She must have been a very special persion, your mother." "No. She was just me mum.") and I Love to Boogie, is one of my favourite bits in the films.

Michael, Billy's best friend, is a great supporting character, played by a boy who is so pretty that most girls would be jealous. And that was a compliment! I like how he asks if Billy gets to wear a tutu and Billy's face when Michael says he thinks Billy would look great in one.

Billy Elliot is one of those movies that make me regret I never took up dancing. Not that I'd have the talent, but it would be awesome. Oh well, I guess I have to settle on embarrassing myself on the dance floor on Saturday nights, doing stupid dance moves to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance... Haha. That's not that bad, actually. Anyway. Jamie Bell is a great dancer - he doesn't seem too educated, but a diamond in the rough, just like Billy. It's more about expressing oneself than a flawless technique.

A few (spoiler-free) words about the last scene... It gets me everytime. Meaning goosebumbs and a raising pulse. Maybe a few tears. I'm not sure why. It's just constructed very well, creating the mood of anticipation and finally... awe. I'm talking about that last shot. Brilliant, just brilliant...

As I was outlining this post, this is were it said 'praise'. So here you go... Billy Elliot is a very good film. Funny, touching, captivating, inspiring... I like the simple, down-to-earth way the movie has been shot:
no melodramatic music, no fancy tricks with the editing or the photography... None of that would've fitted in the world of Billy - the rough, plain environment, the harsh Northern England accents - where any kind of snobbiness is out of the question. The only time the film gets dramatic is in the final scene, and duh, that's the Swan Lake, it's supposed to be dramatic. By the way, I want to go see Swan Lake! I would probably be totally bored most of the time, because I'm just not that cultured, but that one piece of music is so very powerful and grand, I bet it'd be an unforgettable experience.

Speaking of which... I have to give a few more words of praise to the Billy Elliot musical I saw in London some years ago (was it last year...? Must have been, yeah. Gee, time runs fast). It was... amazing. I also saw Chicago and Mamma Mia! on stage, and they were great too, but Billy Elliot is the only one I'd wish to see again. I believe it'll keep running for many years to come, so maybe my wish comes true one day. I watched some of the videos on the page I linked above, and the will is now even greater. Gotta believe the goosebumbs. Gosh...

"Miss, you don't fancy me, do you?"
"No, Billy. Funnily enough, I don't. Now piss off."
"Piss off yourself."


Harri said...

Oh, now I really have to see this, I've seen only about 30 first minutes of the movie, and that was yeeeears ago - the only thing I remember is Billy's friend wearing ballet costume or something.

Hmh...I hope that they have this in the local library.

Eeva said...

Yes, do it! And next time you're in London (or New York or whatever) and you have a free afternoon at your hands, go see the musical, too!

Harri said...

Hah, I wish I'd had a free afternoon when I'm abroad but there's always too many places to see and visit !

But I'll keet that in my mind. Though London + free time is a Mission Impossible. :D

Eeva said...

Yeah, that's short of an 'as if' scenario. :D Well, you gotta dream, right...

M-link / Marja said...

I love this film, tho' I've only seen it once... no reason not to appreciate it regardless of that :).

Bell is wonderfull!