The Kid with a Bike is a French film by the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc. It stars Cécile de France (who I last saw in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter) and Thomas Doret, who plays the kid with the bike.
The story revolves around 12 year old Cyril, a boy left in foster care by his father who can’t afford to support him anymore. When his father moves without telling him, he goes in search of his father and his bike, which was left in his father’s possession. During a visit to his old apartment, Cyril encounters Samantha while trying to get away from his foster home caretakers. She finds out about his missing bike, and shows up the next morning at the home with the bike. A bond develops between the two of them and the story continues from there.
This film received an incredible amount of praise from film critics. Naturally, after hearing so much about the film and how good it is, my expectations were high. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why in the end, I actually found the film a little disappointing. Not to say it is a bad film, not at all. It’s actually quite a good drama, and I really like the way Thomas Doret plays the troubled boy, almost with a blank expression most of the time but yet, you can sense a lot of emotions boiling under the surface (which come bursting forth in one scene inside a car with Samantha).
On the other hand, there were parts that I found very out of place in a realistic drama (and I can’t specify what without spoiling what happens near the end of the movie, but it involves a baseball bat). In contrast to the dramatic and emotional scene in the car mentioned earlier, that scene near the end sticks out like a sore thumb. That isn’t enough of a reason to rate this movie badly, though. In fact, I actually feel bad saying anything negative about this film at all. I wouldn’t even feel the need to, if it wasn’t for the universal acclaim this movie received, almost giving the impression this is the perfect drama. It isn’t.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the film has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 106 positive reviews. Clearly, the critics loved it. The audience ratings, however, is only 78%. Perhaps I am not sophisticated enough to appreciate this piece of “high cinema” like all those film critics but my recommendation is to watch this but without too high an expectation. It is good, but it’s not that good. The trailer (which again shows a lot of the key moments in the film) is included below.