The Kid With A Bike (Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, 2011) 3.5/4
Restless, fierce, and determined, Cyril is a young boy who has been lost in a storm of abandonment. He lives in a foster home and brings on a large amount of disruption. Retaliating against restraint and instruction, Cyril becomes troubled, wanting only to be loved. In the beginning of the film we meet him while he searches for his father so that he can get his precious bike back. Once discovering that his father has indeed moved away without telling him, Cyril feels anger that most cannot imagine. During this emotional breakdown, he meets Samantha. Hearing about his bike, she tracks it down for him and eventually Cyril begins spending weekends at her home. Determined to have his father back in his life, Cyril struggles with fitting in, obeying Samantha, and accepting that his father doesn’t love him.
This is a film that is entirely driven by character performance. Thomas Doret plays Cyril and gives one of the greatest child performances I’ve ever seen. Playing off of the heartbreaking performance by Doret, Cecile de France plays Samantha, the loving foster parent. Each character in the film is involved in Cyril’s path of destruction, but only Samantha sticks around to forgive and comfort.
Although the film is short, it sticks right to the point, focusing directly on Cyril showing the determination and confusion a child can go through. Cyril will remind most viewers of Antoine from The 400 Blows, another story of disobedience and childhood misunderstanding. Differentiating itself, The Kid With A Bike is bright and colorful, while only its main character feels dark and lifeless. The film doesn’t attempt to explain who Cyril is, but instead shows his abandonment, his careless determination, and his need to be loved. The Kid With A Bike is poetic and beautiful, showing that even in the darkest times, a child can find itself.