The Dardenne brothers have a formidable art house reputation. I’ve only previously seen The Son and that was dark, slow, and emotionally intense… But brilliant. The Kid With A Bike follows that mould, beautifully crafting a superb film about a boy coping with a tough life.
Cyril is a young boy in a care home who is determined to find the father who abandoned him and form a relationship. But his father simply doesn’t want him. It’s a difficult situation for an 11 year old to deal with, and young Thomas Doret is a fantastic find as far as child actors go, portraying conflicted naivety and externalising internal pain in an entirely naturalistic way. As is the Dardennes’ style, it’s easy to forget you’re watching a film, and not reality.
Cyril gets taken in by a woman he meets in a chance encounter and looks set to start an new life, but overcoming the trials of his difficult upbringing isn’t going to be easy. Forming new relationships is hard, and the film is essentially about Cyril trying to understand what it’s like go feel the love of a parental figure.
In the end it’s relatively feel good, but only after some scares that it might not turn out as such. The Kid With A Bike is a superb film from the Belgian auteurs, and I’m now more keen than ever to check out the rest of their work.