This movie is one that will forever warm my heart. It is the story of a boy growing up in a rough part of England who discovers his unconventional desire to dance ballet. Simultaneously, it is the story of a soft-spoken adolescent in search of his voice in a world where his seems to matter less than everyone else’s. Billy Elliot captures the state of an adolescent just beginning to understand himself in terms of his wants, needs, and interests. He immediately feels that there is something wrong with the fact that he wants to take dance lessons, yet the dancing itself seems to come so naturally to him; and unlike the boxing lessons that his father encourages, ballet inspires Billy to push himself to the next level. When Billy is at a loss for words to explain his newfound passion to his hard-bitten father and racketeer brother, his feet take over and he escapes in his dance. Having seen this movie over and over, I can tell you that watching the dance consume him is an incredible experience every time you sit down to watch this movie.
What I love about watching Billy Elliot now, seventeen years after its release, is that the story was ahead of its time in terms of rivaling gender norms. While I would not classify Billy Elliot as an LGBT film, it certainly paves the way for many of those conversations in films to follow. In a sense it is more powerful because it does not delve into the LGBT category. Billy’s sexuality remains vague throughout, allowing the film’s focus to stay intact. Above all else, the film is about expression and acceptance. Billy is faced with the choice of whether or not to pursue a dream that may separate him from his family forever while his family is faced with the choice of whether or not to accept and support him.
There is nothing fancy about the setting or the cast; it is simply a great story told with passion. A Must Watch, if you ask me.
P.S. In case it is driving you mad, as it did me, Billy Elliot is Jamie Bell (Abraham Woodhull on the hit show Turn on AMC*).
*Great show. Four Seasons. If you are looking for a small binge, I highly recommend it.