During the miners' strike of 1984, a motherless boy from a pit village takes up dancing against the wishes of his collier dad and older brother. Regrettably, the unsentimental depiction of the working class Northeast in Lee Hall's semi-autobiographical script has been tinged with caricature in stage director Daldry's first feature. That said, the film's real heart - the relationship that Billy (Jamie Bell) strikes up with his dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson (Walters) - provides the conventional dramatic arc with a supple emotional springboard. Mrs Wilkinson is a dispirited soul who finds as much genuine pleasure in nurturing the talent and hope of this 11-year-old as he does in the discipline and support of her surrogacy. Walters is first rate when she checks her tendency to mannerism and harnesses her natural emotionalism. Bell is fine, too, but Daldry overuses the dance as a metaphor for escape and frustration, and choreographer Peter Darling's grandstanding ballet numbers sit a little uneasily, given the realist comedy pitch.