Scripted by Lee Hall, writer of Billy Elliot, this coming-of-age drama shares many of the same preoccupations - father/son relationships, the collapse of the industrial north, culture clash and masculinity. There's even a discussion of whether all ballet dancers are 'poofs'... It's a very much grittier piece, however; Jimmy's father is almost entirely unsympathetic, his one school friend turns on him, and the ending is far from idyllic.
The weakness of Jimmy's motivation lets the film down slightly - given that his major interest is in flying, surely becoming a pilot or a paragliding champion is a more logical ambition? However, it's a powerful, if sometimes uncomfortable, story, and strong performances from young Sean Landless and a laidback Billy Connelly hold the film together.
Gabriel & Me is an interesting, but inferior, companion piece to that infamous dancing debut.