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The Kid With A Bike - Review

Thomas Doret and Cécile de France

Review by Tim Carson

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WINNER of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film at Cannes The Kid With A Bike is the latest from celebrated Belgian film-making brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It’s an emotional and at times heart-breaking insight into the life of a young boy abandoned by his father and trying to make some sense of the world.

Eleven-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret) is living in a children’s home unable to understand why he can’t see his father. He is constantly trying to contact him or escape and go back to flat where he believes his father is still living. Despite numerous attempts to explain to Cyril that his father left him in the home and that he has moved he won’t listen and continues in his quest to find his father and his beloved bike.

During one escape he tries to flee his carers by running into a doctor’s waiting room and clinging to hairdresser Samantha (Cécile de France). It’s a moment that will change both their lives as she eventually agrees to foster him at weekends and Cyril agrees to go.

It’s a fractious and far from straight-forward relationship. Cyril is clearly and understandably a troubled soul and Thomas Doret plays him wonderfully. He captures the anger and frustration bubbling inside the boy and also portrays the glimpses of vulnerability that exist in Cyril too. It’s an affecting performance that only the hardest of hearts won’t be moved by.

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne give Cyril a mammoth emotional journey beset on all sides by physical and mental challenges. He’s pulled in one direction by the love, understanding but firm parenting of Samantha and enticed in another by the freedom and fun offered by the local teenage drug-dealer who provides Cyril with a father figure who’ll let him do what he wants. Which direction he’ll go is hard to predict but you desperately hope this fragile soul finds a way to be happy.

Cécile de France is excellent as Samantha fighting to get through to Cyril and forming a bond with the boy that is powerful but unexpected. In fact the only issue with the film is Samantha’s motivation for taking on Cyril and the changes it brings to her life. But it’s a minor gripe with what is a fantastic piece of film-making.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 87mins
UK Release Date: March 23, 2012