Date: 10th October 2000

Time And Newsweek Critics Square Off Over Billy Elliot

In early reviews, critics for the two major weekly newsmagazines are at odds over Billy Elliot, the hit British film headed for the U.S. David Ansen of Newsweek writes that "this delightful film, with its surprising depth charges of emotion, has the feel of a movie that's going to lodge itself in the public's affections for a long time to come.

He also forecasts that it will do wonders for the careers of director Stephen Daldry (a stage director making his film debut), screenwriter Lee Hall, cinematographer Brian Tufano and, perhaps most of all, 14-year-old Jamie Bell, playing the coal miner's son who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, whom Ansen calls "a pint-size Gene Kelly.

Richard Corliss in Time wouldn't necessarily disagree with any of Ansen's conclusions. But, he confesses, "there are movies whose feel-good sentiments and slick craft annoy me so deeply that I know they will become box-office successes or top prizewinners." This, clearly, is one of those films for Corliss. Director Daldry, he writes, "loads every image with emotive propaganda ... and lards it with music that cues you to weeping or cheering. Billy Elliot is about as open to unforced feeling as Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will." But even Corliss has strong praise for the young star: "It's a victory for Bell to be so natural in a movie so calculating," he remarks.

Source: Studio Briefing