By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
I finally got around to watching Billy Elliot the other day. It’s one of those flicks that most people seem to like, so I gave it a shot. I was not impressed.
Billy Elliot is a young miner’s son who just wants to dance… for some reason. He’s certainly no good at boxing, so that may be it. Anyway, mom’s dead and his dad and older brother are burly miners in the midst of a long strike, so they’re not incredibly supportive. Will Billy be able to follow his passion? Will the screenwriter find a cliché he doesn’t like?
This is Jamie Bell’s big break, and this solid performance has led to a pretty solid career.
Even if he’s becoming inexplicably less ginger
This is also director Stephen Daldry’s first film, and you can see the technical skills that would earn his next three efforts Best Picture nominations. I also have to tip my cap to the scene where Billy’s father crosses the picket line and his oldest jumps the company fence to intercept him before he starts work and compromises his ideals. Powerful stuff, but wait… why is the coal mine only protected by a three foot tall picket fence, and why haven’t the furious miners taken advantage of that fact by now?
There are a lot of things just slightly… off about this film. All of the kids have more strange sexual hang-ups than a cosplay convention, Billy’s brother dials up the intensity to 11 every damn scene, generally without provocation, and the editing was clearly done by a schizophrenic. My favorite example is a cut from Billy’s dad sobbing to two boys jauntily singing “Jingle Bells.”
Merry Christmas, boys and girls!
With Daldry’s track record, there’s no way this thing is as horrifically clichéd as it is on accident.
What is he getting at? There must be some subtext in brazenly including groaners like “There’s a fire in my body” or “I’m flying like a bird” in a heartwarming speech to get Billy into dance school.
Wait… holy shit, this is genius! None of this is real. The entire film is taking place in Billy’s imagination. He’s a dumbass 11 year old, so his daydreams would be based on the terrible movies and books he likes. He remembers his brother as a big meanie, so of course he’s a giant asshole every “scene” he’s in. He can only imagine the mine, so he doesn’t know what the hell a proper security fence looks like. And damn, there are a lot of dance sequences when he’s all by himself in the seemingly deserted town.
So, what is Billy’s reality, then? Everybody else died, due to toxic mine emissions. Don’t believe me? Well, he clearly sees his dead mom. Then there’s that creepy scene where he finishes a conversation with little Debbie, then crosses the street. Behind him we see a van pass, and in the split second it does, she’s gone like she was never there. BECAUSE SHE NEVER WAS! And when he’s all growed up, his dad and brother haven’t aged a year, but Billy’s now a muscled Adonis that resembles present-day Jamie Bell in no way, shape, or form. And wait, what ballet is it that he’s performing in?
A psychological mindfuck masterpiece on par with The Black Swan. Either that or a load of cloying, hackneyed bullshit. Definitely one of those two.
Take a Drink: every time Debbie gets yelled at. That little punk.
Take a Drink: for every hilariously British swear or insult
Take a Drink: every time Billy’s brother is asking for a good spanking from Pa
Do a Shot: every time the relationship between Billy and Mrs. Wilkinson edges towards inappropriate