The kid is a horrible pain in the ass but you actually feel a lot for him because, despite everything, he doesn’t deserve all this rejection. The Kid with a Bike (French, in English subtitles) has 11-year old Cyril, played by Thomas Doret in his film debut, trying to break out of the orphanage so he can go reclaim his father. In the face of authority, he runs, he kicks, he stabs. When his father doesn’t pick up his phone, he insists on breaking into his old apartment unit only to find it empty. He calls around. By chance, a bachelorette hairdresser named Samantha (Cecile de France, “Hereafter”) agrees with the orphanage to take him on the weekends and to drive the boy to reconnect with his father. You don’t have to wait the whole movie for this scene. There are shifts in narrative direction that hold your interest, plus, as misfortunes down spiral you’re riveted – is this boy going to get better or worse in his behavior?
The father sold Cyril’s bike for quick cash, which Samantha generously buys back for the boy. The father is surprisingly not destitute, as Cyril learns he has a restaurant job. But Cyril sees his dad is desperate for cash, and so pitifully, he thinks he can buy his father’s love back. A street hustler hand picks Cyril for a burglary, an assignment that requires practice with a baseball bat. Samantha is responsible for Cyril, but cannot control him. There’s a late scene in this film where you observe humbly at her patience, “Wow, what a good woman.”
This is another significant film by the Dardenne Brothers, although I don’t think it’s as masterful as their 2002 film “The Son” which was 103 throat-grabbing minutes of will the man get revenge for his son or not, or more importantly, what kind of revenge? Their approach with “The Kid with a Bike,” as like their others, is raw vérité style where you believe you are watching real people and real life on-screen. The acting is invisible, and the ending impact is resoundingly deep.
87 Minutes. Unrated. French in English subtitles.
FOREIGN FILM / FOOD FOR THOUGHT MOVIE / WINTER TALE
Film Cousins: “The 400 Blows” (1959, France); “Lacombe Lucien” (1974, France); “The Son” (2002, France); “L’Enfant” (2005, France).