Billy Elliot/B+,B+
Universal/2000/111/ANA 1.85

     Billy Elliot soars under the passionate feet of its title character. Young Billy, growing up the son of a coal mining family, can't contain his excitement for dance. Billy comes to life jumping to the beat of his older brother's rock cassettes. Billy's life turns around when the local boxing club of which he;s a member allows a ballet class to share its gym space. Billy can't take his eyes off the lasses in tutus and it doesn't take more than one solid punch to his nioggin to send Billy surreptiitously on his toes to the middle  of the dancing girls.

Billy gets in the swing of things. ŠUniversal

     Paralleling Billy's march to his own beat is a minor's strike that adds a rather large helping of social commentary to the otherwise very upbeat story. Billy Elliot is best when it sticks to the young man's entrancement by dance and the conflicting feelings of family. There are some touching moments explored with Billy's grandmother and more explosive father/son confrontations. The script even mixes a touch of childhood romance into the pot.
    The camera loves Jamie Bell. The young Brit displays an abundance of charm and poise as Billy. And, man, when the kid is expressing his emotions through dance, Billy Elliot becomes mesmerizing. Julie Waters adds a splash of sass as dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson. Her one,two,threes are spit out with feisty style. Gary Lewis gives a terrific perfromance as Billy's Dad. Lewis assays a complex range of emotions while staying within his character.
     The movie business continues to make successful raids on the British theater establishment. Stephen Daldry makes an auspicious debut with Billy Elliot. It's a spirited directing job filled with energy and a keen understanding of the material.
     The DVD transfer for Billy Elliot looks as natural as Billy's dance steps. The color is rich and  accurate. It's got one of the best Heinz Ketchup bottles I have ever seen on DVD. The image is consistently sharp with fine detail in focus. Night scenes sparkle with deep blacks and excellent shadow detail. The cold reality of the strike torn coal town and the warm, energized look of the gym cum dance studio are perfectly captured. The pop music that drives Billy's feet to life pack plenty of energy onto the Dolby Digital 5:1 surround sound track. Some of the accents are a bit tough to understand at times, but it's no fault of the clear, clean dialogue delivery.




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