Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Foreign
Run Time: 1 hour 27 minutes, Not Rated
Starring: Thomas Doret, Cecile De France, Jeremie Renier
Written & Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (Lorna’s Silence, The Child, The Son)
The simple and innocently titled, The Kid With a Bike, is anything but. It won the Jury Grand Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, and deservedly so.
The “kid” of the title is young Cyril (Thomas Doret), a poorly-behaved boy with some obvious emotional issues. He is in a foster home, but continuously breaks his way out to track down his father. Dad is still in possession of the boy’s bike, and even after discovering an empty apartment, Cyril believes his father will be coming for him.
Except he never will. Cyril’s father has abandoned him, cruelly. By chance, Cyril comes across Samantha, who may be recognizable to some as the beautiful tsunami survivor in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. Samantha is a hairdresser who helps track down the boy’s bike, which was sold to a local resident by the father. She arranges to have Cyril stay with her on weekends to help look after him and provide him with some semblance of family.
From there, the plot twists and deepens in surprising ways. What starts out as a son in search of a father ends up as a resonant character study of a troubled youth. This is no kid’s movie.
Cyril finds his father, about 20 minutes into the film. The remainder of the time is spent exploring Cyril’s life now that he knows that even his own father doesn’t want him.
The bike holds some sort of “Rosebud” importance to the boy, a tangible reminder of a good life. It represents the boy’s moral center, acting as a compass to where the boy is headed, emotionally. Keep an eye on where it winds up, and how smoothly he navigates it depending on his emotional state.
You relate to the child, but he is almost unlikeable at times. It’s hard to blame him, and yet he makes certain choices that could have disastrous results for his future. There is no clear road to adulthood.
The Kid With a Bike was strangely depressing yet completely riveting. There are few movies centered on children that aren’t handled with kid’s gloves. This is one of the better examples of how it can be done effectively, without offering any real judgments on the choices we all make growing up. Life is not easy, and we must navigate the eventual potholes regardless of how many or how soon they appear in our path.
Opens locally on Friday, March 30, 2012
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