The director/brother combo of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have created a film I would describe as very… ‘French’. In this context, it means a film that is wonderfully dissimilar to the Hollywood approach to story-telling. It also means a film based in reality, which has been shot simply and beautifully.
This is the story of Cyril, a twelve-year-old boy abandoned by his father in an orphanage. On impulse Cyril asks Samantha, a woman who kindly restores his bike to him, if he can stay with her on the weekends and Samantha agrees. However, distraught by the rejection of his father, Cyril turns from Samantha to those who are affectionate only as a means of manipulating him. The frightening question of this film is whether Cyril will not only destroy Samantha’s love for him but himself.
The Dardenne brothers have an incredible skill for summarising a complex situation in a few seconds. A prime example of this is the opening scene where Cyril is on the telephone dialling and redialling his father’s now disconnected number. That kind of image plunges you right into the heart of the matter, however, much of the film is not as forthcoming. The motivations of Samantha and Cyril’s father are purposely subterranean leaving much open to your own interpretation and this is where the power of the film lies. It invites you to become involved and form your own understanding rather than telling you what to think.
A Kid With A Bike is a testament to those few and extraordinary people with an exceptional capacity for love and it’s difficult not to be moved by that. (Words: Beth Downey)