The latest film from the Dardenne brothers comes hot in the wake of its Cannes triumph and show’s a slight departure from their often-bleak back catalogue.
‘The Kid with a Bike’ tells the story of Cyril, a young boy teetering on the edge of adolescence, living in a rural care home and trying to come to terms with rejection from his father.
He spends his days in the local town in a hopeless search for said father who has recently and wordlessly moved from the apartment they shared until one day a chance event brings him into contact with Samantha, a local hairdresser and good Samaritan, at which point the film shifts into a modern day realist fairy story.
Cyril spends his weekends with Samantha on an estate in the town. Here he is surrounded by temptations, good and bad, and he must choose which direction to take his life in as he ultimately seeks for the love that has been missing in his life.
It is unusual for the Dardenne brothers to use a professional actor of such calibre but the use of Cecile de France in the role of Samantha works brilliantly and her status helps to elevate her to the role of Fairy Godmother; it’s a subtle but very effective performance and her restrained disdain for the feckless man-baby at the heart of all Cyril’s problems should cut any man to the core.
Ultimately this film is about Cyril and in the title role Thomas Doret is outstanding, imbuing Cyril with the perfect amount of confusion and need and yet fuelled by a rage he’s to young to understand. Its hard to remember such an impressive performance from a such a young actor. He carries the film; it’s a heartbreaking turn.
There is a slight predictability when the plot picks up pace and drifts into the ‘Bad Neighbourhood’ but this ultimately compliments the film. As a piece of social drama ‘The Kid with a Bike’ works excellently and in its subtle way tells us a lot more about juvenile delinquency than any film I’ve seen for some time.
Hopeful, strangely uplifting and highly recommended.
‘The Kid With a Bike’ can be seen at the Cornerhouse up until April 5. Visit here for details.