The Kid with a Bike
Les Films du Fleuve
Now Showing at: Mariemont Theatre
Review by: Larry Thomas
Once again, Belgian filmmakers score with a heart-tugging tale of an abandoned boy who has to make his way in the world. The Kid with a Bike is written and directed by the highly regarded Dardenne Brothers, Luc and Jean-Pierre. His irresponsible father leaves Young Cyril in a state-run facility. Cyril tries to reunite with this less than stellar parent, but keeps searching for something more. On his travels, he is taken in as a foster child by a local hairdresser, played by Cecile DeFrance, who was so good in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter a couple of years back, as well as the two-part French crime saga Mesrine. Thomas Doret is Cyril; he was picked from auditions by the filmmakers in the Belgian town where the film was shot. Both actors give very genuine performances that reach out to the audience as well as to each other.
If the story sounds slight, it’s really not, as the film is built on emotion in this realistic and unsentimental drama. The title and style of the film may remind you of the Italian neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves. In this era when life can be difficult for anyone, it can be especially difficult for kids who are born into less than ideal circumstances. There are no qualifications required for parenting, and unfortunately, the kids that result bear the brunt of the heartache and uncertainty of such an upbringing. Cyril always seems to be running. Either running away from his troubled beginnings, or running toward some hope of a normal life and future.
At a slight eighty-seven minute running time, it’s enough to tell the story at hand, and the Dardiennes have enough cinematic skill to keep thing ably paced and looking good. While their previous output never really got wide acceptance in the U.S., they have been award-winners for years around the world. The Kid with a Bike was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
If you’re looking for film entertainment that eschews gunfights, space aliens, puerile adolescents, and other affectations of American films, this might be what you’re looking for. It’s refreshing and nicely done.
The PG-13 rated The Kid with a Bike is now showing at the Mariemont Theatre.