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BILLY ELLIOT DANCES ON BEAT IN OFFBEAT FILM

April 5, 2001 – The British have a knack for so many things – literature, fish and chips, turning out a good (if warm) pint, scorning and adoring and their royalty, and producing fine, offbeat, working class films. And it looks like "Billy Elliot" is one of those.
Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is a lonesome 11-year-old living in a desolate mining town in North East England with his recently widowed father and his unsmiling brother, both of whom are involved in a massive coal miner's strike. With his brother and father at an emotional impasse – he can't really communicate with them – Billy starts playing his late mother's piano when nobody is around. He enjoys it.
He is supposed to be taking boxing lessons in the afternoon, which he dutifully does until he discovers a ballet class at the other end of the building. He soon ingratiates himself with the dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters), and begins secretly taking lessons. Wilkinson is astonished at Billy's natural talent, and Billy is thrilled to have found what he loves.
When his father finally finds out about the dancing lessons, a major crisis erupts as Billy tries to explain his love for dance. His family is having none of it.
One critic probably said it best: "a simple story, laced with sass, incredible charm and superb acting." It is a debut role for 13-year-old Bell who tried out along with about 2,000 other boys, for the part. Director Stephen Daldry was overjoyed to find Bell when he had almost despaired of finding a youngster from North East England with the right accent, who could dance as well as act. Bell does all his own dancing.
The movie is rated R for language.
It starts Thursday at Sunny Isle Theaters.

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