The Kid with a Bike (12A)

Dir: Jean Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Stars: Thomas Doret, Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier & Egon Di Mateo

The Dardenne brothers have built up a reputation as being the leading commentators on contemporary social issues working in French cinema today. Highly acclaimed films such as The Son, Rosetta and la Promesse highlight his interest in relationships between adults and children, crime and punishment and redemption. He has consistently made high quality films and thankfully The Kid with a Bike is no exception.

Cyril (Doret) is an 11-year old boy who has been abandoned by his father (Renier) and is living in a state-run home. A chance encounter with Samantha (De France) leads to him spending his weekends with her. After the theft of his bike, Cyril encounters the local dealer on his estate, Wes (Di Mateo), who specialises in recruiting dispossessed young kids to work for him. As his involvement with Wes causes conflict with Samantha, events begin to spiral out of control; leading to his relationship with her coming to a head.

The Dardennes have a happy knack of getting exceptional performances out of young and inexperienced actors. Thomas Doret’s portrayal of Cyril, a boy desperate for his father’s love, is what makes The Kid with a Bike such an impressive and moving film. Often, in films where a child is the main protagonist, adult actors are relied upon to provide a certain level of maturity and focus. Whilst the supporting cast are excellent (especially De France), Doret never falls into the trap of over-acting, instead producing a consummate and understated turn, which imbues the film with authenticity.

The camerawork and dialogue is restrained and subtle, and The Kid with a Bike avoids any sense of melodrama or sensationalism. The camera focuses and stays on the young protagonist, whose naturalistic performance suggests a maturity beyond his years. There are a couple of dramatic moments which verge on the comedic. However, I assume the brothers opt for symbolism over realism; keeping the film fresh and vital.

Whilst The Kid with a Bike doesn’t re-invent the wheel, it is an impressive dramatic piece, and an intimate humanist fable.

Playing now at the Showroom http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/thekidwithabike