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Billy Elliot

Stephen Daldry

Stephen Daldry’s touching debut Billy Elliot is 20 years old this year; in some ways it still feels as fresh as ever, in others it feels like a film that is so embedded in UK cinema history that it has been around for much longer; a quintessential British coming-of-age tale which sits nicely alongside such classics as Kes and Gregory’s Girl.

“full of pathos, humour and glorious dancing set-pieces”

Jamie Bell is wonderful as the titular Billy, an 11-year-old growing up in the North-East of England in the 1980s. Billy’s father (Gary Lewis) is a widowed coal miner standing in the picket line during the ongoing miners’ strikes. When his dad sends him to boxing lessons, Billy discovers he has a talent for dancing under the tutelage of Mrs. Wilkinson, played by Julie Walters who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance.

Never shying away from the gritty reality of 1980s Britain, Billy Elliot is nonetheless a celebratory, invigorating film, full of pathos, humour and glorious dancing set-pieces, brilliantly performed by the young Bell. By the time Mrs. Wilkinson has Billy dancing along to T-Rex’s We Love to Boogie, it’s impossible not to be tapping your toes along with our young hero.