Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: 'The Kid With The Bike' Rides Into Trouble, Crashes Into A Savior

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 14, 2012 at 4:03PM

All the books on parenting notwithstanding, it's always been pretty simple: kids not only want love, they need it. And in the latest from Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne that need is amplified into a mellifluous tone of desperation encapsulated in little Cyril (Thomas Doret) the titular 'kid with a bike.' When the film opens Cyril literally can't believe what he's hearing: left by his father in a children's home (it's hinted that his mother is dead), he calls the number he has for his Dad, only to hear that the line is no longer in service. He's told that his father has moved without leaving a forwarding address and, unconvinced, he leaves school one morning to go there himself where he not only finds an empty apartment but learns that his bike is gone as well. With the school counselors on his tail he ducks into a doctor's office and literally crashes into Samantha (Cecile de France, most recently seen by American audiences in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter") and hangs on to her. Surprised, but not fazed, the first words she says to him are, "You can hold me, but not too tight."
1

The Kid With The Bike
The following is a reprint of our review from the Cannes Film Festival.

All the books on parenting notwithstanding, it's always been pretty simple: kids not only want love, they need it. And in the latest from Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne that need is amplified into a mellifluous tone of desperation encapsulated in little Cyril (Thomas Doret) the titular 'kid with a bike.' When the film opens Cyril literally can't believe what he's hearing: left by his father in a children's home (it's hinted that his mother is dead), he calls the number he has for his Dad, only to hear that the line is no longer in service. He's told that his father has moved without leaving a forwarding address and, unconvinced, he leaves school one morning to go there himself where he not only finds an empty apartment but learns that his bike is gone as well. With the school counselors on his tail he ducks into a doctor's office and literally crashes into Samantha (Cecile de France, most recently seen by American audiences in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter") and hangs on to her. Surprised, but not fazed, the first words she says to him are, "You can hold me, but not too tight."

Those generous words start their relationship and it's that spirit that Samantha gives to Cyril, something he's never had before. The next day, she returns to the children's home with the bike that she bought back for him from the father's neighbor who sold it to pay bills. Cyril is happy, but moreover, he's longing for attention, popping wheelies and trying desperately to impress Samantha. As she drives away, Cyril races after her and asks if she'll take him in as a foster parent on the weekends. With almost no hesitation she agrees, saying she has to run but will call later to arrange it, but Cyril, ever doubtful, says, "You say that you will, but you won't."

The Kid With The Bike

But she does, and not only that, she manages what no else could be bothered to do, and tracks down his father and arranges a meeting between the two. It's an awkward meeting that starts with him not even showing up, and when they do track him down, it ends with him telling Cyril in no uncertain terms, that he's not to contact him or call him again. "I was in the shit," he explains to Cyril about leaving him in a children's home, but as he admits to Samantha privately, he needs to start over.

And this is what Samantha willingly inherits. A child who is already seeing a psychologist, dealing with a dead mother and a father who tells him to leave him alone, and bouncing through his childhood uncertain of who to trust. Even when he asks Samantha why she took him in, she can't give a reason other than the simple fact that he asked her too. So Cyril tentatively accepts her generosity but leaves himself open to anyone who will give him attention. And in walks Wes (Egon Di Mateo), a slick-haired, silver-chained street tough who knows exactly how to butter up and then exploit young kids like Cyril for his own ends. He spends a long day with Cyril, playing video games, feeding him Fanta, cookies and, more importantly, compliments. He even tosses out the idea that he might adopt him. But he also enlists him into a scheme, and Cyril eager to please, agrees to do it. As the film moves into the final act, the sustained tone of Cyril's longing for love and a place where he can confidently lays his head, begins to change ever so slightly, as the focus shifts to Samantha who puts her relationships and even her own emotional stability on the line for Cyril. The narrative then moves back to the kid, and when we see him for the last time, he's turned into a survivor who can take anything that life dares to throw at him.

The Kid With The Bike

The Dardennes haven't changed up the formula too much with "The Kid With The Bike," though their natural style here features in a film that is much brighter than usual -- it was the first time they've shot a film during the summer. There is also a recurring musical cue that breaks up the film into very loose chapters. But for the most part it's another strong character study, and yes, it's at times absolutely wrenching. Doret and De France each give individually strong performances -- he with so much rage in his tired eyes and fatigued face, she with her ramrod-straight back and the strength of her visage which never flinches from the worst Cyril has to offer. But together, their chemistry is organic and instinctive, and wholly powerful. You understand exactly why Cyril remains loyal to Samantha, but more, De France conveys enough through her actions to make her reasons for taking in the young child understood, though never verbalized.

Will the Dardennes take home a third Palmes d'Or for "The Kid With The Bike"? We doubt it. The competition line-up is stacked hard this year and with two already under their belt, and with Cannes tending to award films that need the attention, we don't see it happening. It's nothing particularly groundbreaking for the directing pair, but that's hardly a criticism. Once again, they focus on a tough slice of life with a strong observational eye and close attention to detail. 'The kid' of the title may not quite be saved as the credits roll, but in Samantha he may have found for the first time, someone worth believing in and the journey to that realization is complex, beautiful and soulful. [B+]

This article is related to: The Kid With The Bike, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates