Today: June 18, 2024
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The Kid With A Bike

British audiences’ best reference point for the Belgian Dardenne brothers’ new film lies in Thomas Turgoose’s break-out performance in 2007’s This is England.

British audiences’ best reference point for the Belgian Dardenne
brothers’ new film lies in Thomas
Turgoose’s break-out performance in 2007’s This is England.
As a troubled
kid who falls in with the right crowd, then the wrong crowd, it shares many a
theme with The Kid With A Bike – although with two less wheels of course.

Abandoned by
his father to a care home, Cyril (Thomas Doret) is on a quest to
find his dad and his beloved bike. When
kindly hairdresser, Samantha (Cecile de France)
agrees to take him in at weekends, what should be the start of a new life is
weighed down by the troubles of the
old.

Famous for
their naturalistic style, the Dardenne’s
newest film has been the toast of
film festivals around the world and
it’s not hard to see why. With a stand-out performance from newcomer Doret and well-told themes of redemption and
compassion all thrown into the mix, The
Kid With A Bike
is a brief but
simply told tale which is bound to
elicit sympathy from many a parent and admiration from hordes of Ken Loach and Shane Meadows fans.

Doret gives a
fantastic performance in a real Jekyll and Hyde role, turning
from shy teenager one minute to a wild, biting attacker the next. Little is shown of what’s led to Cyril ending
up in the care home – although a meeting with his father offers some insight –
meaning there’s a wealth of backstory hidden behind those eyes that makes Cyril act the way he does.

Thankfully the kindly
Samantha offers love, even
if we’re never sure why, and some form of parental guidance to see Cyril
through even when he goes off the rails. De
France,
the most recognisable face
in the film, is forgiving and nurturing as
the maternal hairdresser in a calm and yet assertive performance; it’s her relationship with Cyril which provides the heartbeat of the film and its best scenes.

However,
despite the brief introduction of rogue elements (the local bad boy) and an
oddly downbeat ending, The Kid With A Bike feels a little laboured at times, despite its short running time. Perhaps it’s the
absence of much emotional response or the rather motiveless characters but something
leaves the viewer oddly detached, meaning
that, come the end, we should feel something more than we do. Maybe that’s the
intention but when you start caring more about the bike then perhaps this is a missed opportunity to make something really touching.

In essence, a remarkable performance from Doret and some lovely
tracking shots down Liege
streets mask over the lack of emotion that makes the similarly-themed Shane
Meadow’s films so wonderful. Good, but not wheelie good.

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