Billy Elliot

Iconography that's often heavy-handed—faceless formations of police—gets a light touch in this lilting drama about the son of a striking coal miner in northern England. Billy (Jamie Bell) secretly attends dance class instead of boxing lessons, hoping admission to a ballet school in London will be his ticket out of a bad situation—the town's in turmoil, his mother's dead, his father's embittered by grief and frustration. The assumption that ballet is studied only by effeminate if not homosexual men—an assumption made by nearly every other male character—is debunked with unusual subtlety in the movie, a delicate balance of fantasy and realism, caricature and character study that isn't driven primarily by its plot or even the development of its protagonist. From the outset 11-year-old Billy is more self-aware than most child characters, if not most children. Stephen Daldry directed a screenplay by Lee Hall; with Julie Walters and Gary Lewis. 109 min.

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