The backdrop for "Billy Elliot" is familiar: A haggard blue-collar English community, struggling under the conservative, anti-labor regime of Margaret Thatcher. We've seen variations on this theme in "Among Giants," "Brassed Off," "The Full Monty" and "The Van."
The time period is specific -- it's 1984 and the coal workers are on strike -- although such details won't mean much to audiences outside Britain.
But the characters and their drives and dreams are utterly unique in this non-pandering feel-good film that features such strong performances and original circumstances that even the most stalwart cynic will likely succumb to its charismatic charm.
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