The Kid With a Bike (PG-13)

Film

Drama

Jérémie Renier, left, and Thomas Doret in The Kid with a Bike

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Time Out says

Tue Mar 20 2012

Those Dardenne brothers…still making great movies with second-nature ease. True to its title, the Belgian duo’s latest has both a kid—the temperamental 11-year-old Cyril (Doret)—and a bicycle he clings to like a vital appendage. In looks and disposition, this young protagonist recalls another Belgian hero (the comic artist Hergé’s doggedly persistent Tintin), though his authority-defying adventures are ruled more by cusp-of-adolescence selfishness than worldly altruism. Cyril’s bad attitude is understandable, considering that his deadbeat father (Renier) abandoned him to foster care. But a reprieve seems possible after the boy meets Samantha (De France), a kindly hairdresser who agrees to adopt him for weekends.

From there, this deceptively doclike feature unleashes a maelstrom of torments and temptations that threaten to undo Cyril’s salvation: His beloved two-wheeler is stolen several times; a charmingly wolfish criminal conscripts him into service; and Samantha’s best intentions tend to encourage the worst in the boy (he makes the most shocking use of a pair of scissors since Barbara Stanwyck defaced Judith Anderson in The Furies). Like much of the Dardennes’ output, The Kid with a Bike doubles as both an engrossingly perceptive human drama and a powerful religious parable. Just about every adolescent has a persecution complex, and Cyril tends to come off in his self-righteous way as a puerile Christ without a purpose. Yet God is in the details: You can see divinity in Samantha’s saintly patience with her young charge and sense it whenever snippets of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto play over certain mundane scenes as if implying the presence of a higher power. Appropriately, when Cyril finally has his beautifully subtle moment of redemption, it hits with the force of a heaven-sent epiphany.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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Release details

Rated:

PG-13

US release:

Fri Mar 16, 2012

Duration:

87 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Cécile de France, Thomas Doret, Jérémie Rénier

Director:

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Screenwriter:

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

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