The Kid With A Bike


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by The Kid With A Bike
19 Monday 19th March 2012

The story follows Cyril, portrayed with an excellent balance of desperation and adorable devotion by Thomas Doret, as he tries to reconnect with the father who dropped him off at a children's home 'just for a month' then basically peaced out. If you're anything like me, you'll also cringe your way through scenes where Cyril's father tries to distance himself from his son once he's been tracked down, treating him more like a one-night stand he wishes would stop calling rather than a person he helped create. The nuances in speech and body language between father and son are both heart-breaking and wonderfully natural. In short, this kid can act.

We watch as he's taken in by a hairdresser from his father's old flat complex, spending weekends with her while he continues to chase the dream of some kind of relationship with his father. His friendship with Samantha (played with deft subtlety by Cécile de France) is beautifully depicted, blossoming from a rage fit in his father’s old building where he grabbed onto her in their health centre lobby in a bid to avoid being taken back to the home. When she showed up some days later with the bike she overheard him mention, her surrogate role begins.

In his time with Samantha, we follow Cyril closely as he attempts to reconnect with his ridiculously estranged father, finds his feet in her neighbourhood and ends up tucked under the wing of a local dealer. Indeed, plot twist. I won't go into enough detail so as to ruin the film, but it takes an unexpected turn; when local boys in Samantha's area continue to try and steal his bike he winds up sinking into an odd friendship with the local gang's leader. Needless to say, things there don't pan out for the best.

Light smatterings of piano music score particularly introspective moments in the film, while the rest is generally left bare. Often just the sound of Cyril's breath, huffed and puffed while he cycles around the suburbs, is all we hear in scenes most editors and directors would layer with warm washes of synth instrumentals. In these self-indulgent moments the Dardenne brothers toe the line of pretension in the way that is their forte, but in my opinion always ends up just on the right side.

Overall the film makes for an engaging, delicate and emotive watch which will please fans of character-driven stories almost raw with realism.

The Kid With A Bike is out in Curzon cinemas from this Friday (23 March 2012). Click here to find a screening near you.

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