The Kid With a Bike

April 1, 2012 2 Comments

The pastoral photograph that I chose for “The Kid with a Bike” is misleading because it captures a moment of sweet mother-son tranquility without a hint of the frenetic motion and pain it took to get there.  Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s newest film takes us on this journey without dodging the anguish shared by its protagonists Cyril, an abandoned father-starved 11 year old (played by Thomas Douret) and Samantha (Cecile De France), a steady, caring hairdresser who serves as a part time foster parent and the only hope Cyril has to escape the anger that has entrapped him.  Cyrus is in constant motion, fueled by the anger and fear of being truly abandoned by his father, as he pedals and runs frantically in pursuit of a parent who no longer wants him.  We watch in queasy dread as Cyrus seems to slide into a life of delinquency, despite Samantha’s best efforts.  The Dardennes are masters at communicating gut wrenching anguish with seemingly small actions (I won’t spoil the moment by describing how) and minimal melodrama. We sense what Cyril longs for and why he refuses to accept his reality.  Samantha does not come equipped with a halo, so  we wonder why she would offer so much of herself to this stranger.  Are people really that good?  (This theme was suggested in Aki Kaurasmaki’s recent Le Havre with similar straight up integrity)….others will be reminded of Truffaut’s “400 Blows,” the gold standard exploration of a young boy’s struggle with inner and outer pain.  Criminal behavior is not justified, but the bad guys in this film are not complete villains… even Wes, the older gang leader who draws the vulnerable Cyril into serious trouble, takes care of his aging grandparents…..the Dardennes are not afraid to reward our willingness to ride along with Cyril with hope…hope that cautiously exists only if there are enough people like Samantha sprinkled in the world….this is truly a must see movie!!!!!!!!  Jolyn Wagner

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2 Comments to “The Kid With a Bike”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    “The Kid with a Bike,” is a story of people who won’t give up. Cyril, the kid, won’t give up looking for his bike that he is sure his father would not sell. Both before and after he gets the bike, he won’t give up looking for his father who he is sure will welcome him when they reunite. He won’t give up even when he finds that the welcome is not forthcoming. Ultimately, he must give up hope for his father when he finds that even money can’t buy love.

    But Samantha never gives up on Cyril. She is willing to give up on her boyfriend, but not Cyril. Is their relationship idyllic? Hardly! Does she give Cyril everything he wants? Not at all! But she finds his bike and his father and gives him unconditional love, even when I would have lost all patience.

    Why? Because she was so needy? No! Because for some unknown reason, she just felt for him. And so things just went smoothly after that? They didn’t. A couple of times tragedy was averted only by luck.

    In The Gold Rush, the Chaplin character persists and, with luck, things turn out well. It happens. And so does the opposite. Such things make us sigh…and cheer, sometimes quietly, especially when victories and defeats are presented so matter-of-factly as they are in “The Kid with a Bike.”

  2. I think your connection between Cyril and the Lonely Prospector(Chaplin’s Tramp) is an emotional bullseye. The physicality of both characters to express their emotion is also similar….Tragedy averted by luck…that too…I can almost picture the lonely prospector peddling furiously on his bike…and poor Cyril hanging on for dear life over the edge of a cliff….sigh is right….

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