Billy Elliot


Billy Elliot Directed by Stephen Daldry Starring Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis and Jamie Draven *** (out of five) Rated R for language

THERE'S something inspiring about how people respond to life's challenges and it's particularly moving if the person who responds is a child. Billy Elliot and Pay it Forward tell the stories of two young men who overcome obstacles, respond to challenges and inspire their adult friends.

How does a boy who loves to dance survive in a mining town in northern England? That's the question Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) has to face. When Mrs. Wilkinson's (Julie Walters) ballet class moves in to share the gym with Billy's boxing class, he sees the girls dance, drops his gloves, and joins in. This is not good news for his father (Gary Lewis) or his older brother (Jamie Draven). They're coal miners, on strike, and in their minds, a boy dancer is clearly a "poof."

But not Billy: he's attracted to his friend Debbie (Nicola Blackwell), and the cross-dressing antics of his friend Michael (Stuart Wells) don't much interest him. Billy loves to dance: his determination to move with grace and power find a happy resolution when he auditions for a national ballet school. In response to an examiner's question about how he feels when he dances, Billy says that it's like electricity runs through him. When first-time director Stephen Daldry captures Billy's dance, you feel the electricity, the energy that has the power to transform even the hearts of a tough father, and a disapproving brother. This is a very entertaining film, with a first-rate performance by Jamie Bell as Billy.

One good turn deserves another: that's the idea behind Pay it Forward. Kevin Spacey plays Eugene Simonet, a seventh-grade teacher and a challenged person because of a serious burn injury, who teaches social studies in an elementary school in Las Vegas. …

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