The Kid With a Bike (12A)

Film

Drama

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

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Sun May 15 2011

The films of Belgium’s Dardenne brothers are defined by their short, sharp shocks of compassion and wisdom. Their stories are as direct and as stripped of fat as their titles (‘The Son’, ‘The Child’) and are always contemporary tales, shot in a frank, realist style with energetic, unfussy forward momentum. They exert a strong moral kick without overplaying any obvious themes.

No wonder they are often called parables or fairy tales, although it’s their pared-down clarity that wins them these tags, rather than any sense of the religious or mythical.As ever, ‘The Kid with a Bike’ lands us in Seraing, the suburb of the Belgian city of Liège that has become home to the Dardennes’ portraits of the marginalised. Here the kid is Cyril (Thomas Doret), a bruised 11-year-old desperate to find the dad who has abandoned him to social services. The locals call him ‘pitbull’, but within Cyril is a puppy desperate for attention and eager to please, even if it means misplacing his loyalty in his errant father or a local crook. He’s a fascinating character, instantly recognisable, and brought to life with near heartbreaking vulnerability by Doret.

As Cyril dashes about the neighbourhood (he’s constantly running and cycling, as if the world is threatening to leave him behind), he falls into the protective arms of a hairdresser, Samantha (Cécile de France). Together, they encounter the boy’s father (Jérémie Renier), who makes it depressingly clear he doesn’t want to know his son. Samantha agrees to foster Cyril, but soon a false friendship with an older boy threatens to throw him off the rails for good.´

The innocence of children and their capacity for good in a corrupting adult world are interests to which the Dardennes keep returning, and they are embraced incredibly movingly here, especially in the film’s tense final minutes. Cyril surprises us all by displaying impressive grace and maturity after committing a crime, and at the same time we see how an adult is prepared to act shoddily in the same context. The man in question is far more respectable on the surface than Cyril’s feckless dad (a target too easy for the judgement of such a level-headed film). And the man’s behaviour raises the film’s concern with fathers and sons above issues of poverty or education, taking it to a more interesting, universal moral plane.

The Dardennes finally afford huge dignity and strength to Cyril. They also leave us with a big-hearted film far more complex than its brisk simplicity may at first suggest. You think you know what you’re getting with a Dardennes film – and then they give you a whole lot more.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Mar 23, 2012

Duration:

87 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|19
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soraya raza

I first caught the middle of this film several months ago and it left such an impression that I ordered it, the old fashioned way. I showed it to my 10 year old last night who instantly recognised his brother. The story is one that resonates in some areas more than others - kid abandoned by dad,left to the services who do a good job in the film, but what he is looking for is love and belonging. He seeks out his dad and although we are given no real explanation or emotion by the dad as to why he does not want his son to be with him, the son does get the "message" and tries to harm himself, as if blaming himself for not being loved or wanted by his own father. The fairy take part comes along when Samantha, the local hairdresser, sees something in the child that maker her maternal side put him above all else - above her own love life and her own self. She just feels love for him, but naturally, has an uphill struggle with a child whose background has bruised him emotionally. After a few ups and downs and a brush with the law, we see that Cyril is good, through and through, and that the people who are respectable, such as the shop owner Cyril robs and who is recompensed, is not so noble or honest. The ending is subtle and yet hits you like a hammer-blow to the heart. It is happy and I am glad for it.

soraya raza

I first caught the middle of this film several months ago and it left such an impression that I ordered it, the old fashioned way. I showed it to my 10 year old last night who instantly recognised his brother. The story is one that resonates in some areas more than others - kid abandoned by dad,left to the services who do a good job in the film, but what he is looking for is love and belonging. He seeks out his dad and although we are given no real explanation or emotion by the dad as to why he does not want his son to be with him, the son does get the "message" and tries to harm himself, as if blaming himself for not being loved or wanted by his own father. The fairy take part comes along when Samantha, the local hairdresser, sees something in the child that maker her maternal side put him above all else - above her own love life and her own self. She just feels love for him, but naturally, has an uphill struggle with a child whose background has bruised him emotionally. After a few ups and downs and a brush with the law, we see that Cyril is good, through and through, and that the people who are respectable, such as the shop owner Cyril robs and who is recompensed, is not so noble or honest. The ending is subtle and yet hits you like a hammer-blow to the heart. It is happy and I am glad for it.

Martin Salter

The story just keeps moving forward in a way that Hollywood can never touch - small moments with great significance. A father telling his son he never wants to see him again in a grubby restaurant doorway with no sentimental music, no long lingering pauses. Just the facts with little or no explanation and the emotional impact delivered inside the viewer rather than played out with a heavy hand on the screen. The kid is great, Samantha the ideal mother who is not a mother herself. I loved this film.

Martin Salter

The story just keeps moving forward in a way that Hollywood can never touch - small moments with great significance. A father telling his son he never wants to see him again in a grubby restaurant doorway with no sentimental music, no long lingering pauses. Just the facts with little or no explanation and the emotional impact delivered inside the viewer rather than played out with a heavy hand on the screen. The kid is great, Samantha the ideal mother who is not a mother herself. I loved this film.

Peter Ludbrook

I finally caught up with film on DVD. I agree it's splendidly acted, particularly , by the two leads. However I felt that there were things that didn't work. Foe example Samantha's decision to take Cyril on seemed very spur of the moment. That it was agreed to by social services seems problematic. Similarly her decison to ditch her boyfriend came out of nowhere in that there had been no suggestion that relations between them were poor. The father was clearly a tosser but there was no mention of a mother or any wider family network. These plot holes really jarred. As to the final shot, I found it rather perfunctory. It certainly didn't carry the emotional weight for this viewer that the freeze frame at the end of 'The 400 Blows' does. It's such a pity because I believe that if the film had been developed a bit more it would have been a much better film deserving of 5 stars.

Mary Black

Totally gripping film, well acted and great story line. I am 87 and rate it amongst my top ten films ever.

Mary Black

Totally gripping film, well acted and great story line. I am 87 and rate it amongst my top ten films ever.

Paul

A enjoyable and realistic film about the importance of fostering and mentoring. Coincidentally I am a volunteer mentor to teenage boys and some of the scenes are very realistic and reminiscent of my own experiences. The film shows the golden age boys go through before becoming brooding teens. A delightful film if you like a good story.

Jag

The best film I've seen in the last year. Fantastic performance by the actor playing the kid and the most stunning ending to a French movie since "Les Enfants du Paradis". Go see.

Jag

The best film I've seen in the last year. Fantastic performance by the actor playing the kid and the most stunning ending to a French movie since "Les Enfants du Paradis". Go see.

Rod&#039;Angleterre

A worthy but by no means 5 star film. Excellent acting by the "kid" & a well-paced narritive cannot make-up for obvious missing aspects. Principaly, apparent total absence of professional help for such a troubled child rejected by his father into the care of a well-meaning amature. Having said that the film is timely in raising issues of children influenced by gang culture.

Phil

I was very moved by this film when I saw it at the bfi London Film Festival. Having worked with kids affected by parental rejection, I recognised in Cyril's behaviour the desparation he feels to try and retrieve what he has lost. Thank heaven for the Samanthas of this world who make great personal sacrifices to try to understand and help the Cyrils before it is too late. The Dardennes brothers have captured the situation superbly. The slowed down chords from the Beethoven Piano Concerto were very affective at the moments of greatest emotional intensity.

Phil

I was very moved by this film when I saw it at the bfi London Film Festival. Having worked with kids affected by parental rejection, I recognised in Cyril's behaviour the desparation he feels to try and retrieve what he has lost. Thank heaven for the Samanthas of this world who make great personal sacrifices to try to understand and help the Cyrils before it is too late. The Dardennes brothers have captured the situation superbly. The slowed down chords from the Beethoven Piano Concerto were very affective at the moments of greatest emotional intensity.

david glowacki

It does not live up to the reviews..Nothing seriously wrong with the film,it is just a bit wishy washy..The script is a little uneven and at times unbelievable...My main problem is the child is such an obnoxious brat that you are deprived of any feeling of compassion or tenderness..He simply needs a good clip around the ear..l suspect that the director is quite a young person

Peter

Unusually I think that Time Out and the other very positive reviews have got this film badly wrong. Characterisation was shallow - for example, Samantha sees unmoved by the end of her affair. Plot wss improbable and there was never really any edge to the film at all. Disapponting.

Paul Murphy

An amazing film with no flash but high drama, simply but eloquently showing bonds and barriers in a small working-class community. Here the Dardennes are up with Loach at his very best - yes I mean Kes - massively moving without being miserablist. It was my first Dardennes film and I was knocked out - must see more! Spot-on review Dave BTW.

Paul Murphy

An amazing film with no flash but high drama, simply but eloquently showing bonds and barriers in a small working-class community. Here the Dardennes are up with Loach at his very best - yes I mean Kes - massively moving without being miserablist. It was my first Dardennes film and I was knocked out - must see more! Spot-on review Dave BTW.

Andy

The music, what were the particular scenes when the Beethoven was used? When his father denied him, was one What were the others? A brilliant film, following on, for me, from the equally brilliant , and compassionate, Take shelter.

Andy

The music, what were the particular scenes when the Beethoven was used? When his father denied him, was one What were the others? A brilliant film, following on, for me, from the equally brilliant , and compassionate, Take shelter.