Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Kid with a Bike (2011)

Sometimes it is the simplest tales that evoke the most emotion. Stories of rare individual triumphs or catastrophes can certainly lead to a few tears, both happy or sad, but it is the situations in which we can relate to that truly make us feel something.

The Kid with a Bike (2011) is directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. The principle language of the film is French. The story revolves around a 12-year old boy named Cyril, played by Thomas Doret, who is in foster care. His father has abandoned him, and his mother is out of the picture for unspecified reasons. But all that matters is that he has no one.

Cyril leaves his foster home and goes looking for his two most treasured items -- his bike and his father. But he soon discovers that his father's apartment is empty, meaning that he has moved on with his life without so much as a goodbye. He finds his way into the a store of a hairdresser named Samantha, played by Cecile de France (Hereafter) who takes a liking to young Cyril. Shortly after, Samantha delivers his lost bicycle to him, informing him that she bought it off another child. Cyril asks Samantha if he could stay with her on weekends, and she agrees.

Even though he has found a loving caretaker, Cyril still desperately wants to see his father. Understanding this, Samantha takes him on a quest to find him, only to discover that his father (played by Guy Catoul) wants nothing to do with him. He tells Cyril and Samantha, quite simply, that he can't handle the responsibility of being a father.

Already a temperamental adolescent, Cyril becomes inconsolable, and finds himself in a vulnerable state in his life. Riding around streets on his bike without supervision, he finds a new friend in a young gang leader (Fabrizio Rongione) who is nice to Cyril. He offers him drinks, money and lets him play video games. But in reality, he's trying to recruit Cyril, a naive youth, to do his dirty work.

It's a prime example of how a young child can easily fall through the tracks. Parentless and rejected, he is simply a young boy looking for attention. Although Samantha loves him, and treats him like her own son, she is still not his a biological parent.

The film is shot in a very naturalistic style, almost as if it is a handheld camera. There aren't many characters, and Cyril and Samantha dominate the screen. The film conveys the bond that begins the form between the two, and the sacrifices that Samantha must make to consider herself Cyril's primary caretaker.
Thomas Doret and Cecile de France

But the mood of the film is hopeful. It shows that just because you do not have a traditional upbringing, that it does not mean you still can not have a good one. It preaches resilience, understanding and acceptance. The Kid with a Bike is a very real film about real situations, and a film that tells us that we need to not necessarily avoid making mistakes, but to learn from them.

The acting across the board is fantastic. Doret and de France share a wonderful chemistry that only adds to the realism. The two also do a superb job hitting home the emotions of the film, which become heavy at times. Although music is not heard often in the film, when it is, it is powerful at just the right moments.

The Kid with a Bike will certainly not be one of the most unique or original pieces of cinema that you've ever seen, but it flourishes on telling a simple story that many people will find no trouble relating to.

~ Review by Ddubbs

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