I recently watched Billy Liar, and whilst I loved the whole film, I was most taken with Julie Christie and the character she played, Liz.
Billy Liar was the film that made Christie and star, and despite her short amount of screen time, she is both captivating and important to the overall plot.
Liz is the first of the 1960s free spirits. Billy loves her but he also wants to be like her. The audience feels much the same, Liz is similar to Billy, but she is able to break away from her home something that Billy ultimately fails to do.
The scene in which Liz first appears is a breath of fresh air. The music becomes more upbeat as we watch her stroll through the streets, enjoying what she sees, her emotions perfectly expressed on her face.
Importantly Liz is completely different from Billy’s other girlfriends. Superficially her hair-do is more natural, more playful. She truly loves Billy because she understands him, she understands the need to escape, she accepts his dream world and she knows he is a liar. But she is able to bring the truth out of him, she is the only person Billy is able to be himself with. Even at the end when he doesn’t get on the train, Liz’s expression tells us that she knew-she expected that outcome, even if she is disappointed (perhaps because it has happened before-earlier we learn that Liz wanted Billy to go to France with her).
Free spirited Liz was one of the first of her kind in British cinema. She paved the way for young woman, showing them that they didn’t have to be miniature versions of their mothers. They could be young, girlish, and adventurous. Liz wants to marry Billy but she isn’t overly concerned if they don’t, she simply wants to live life, unlike Billy’s other girls, Barbara and Rita.
Here is Liz's first appearance in the film. I love Christies naturalness, especially the part when she's crossing the road.