I’m glad this was my entry point into Dardenne film; Two days, one night has been staring me down on Netflix for too long now and after such a great experience here my hopes are even higher. Why? Well, a fine line is walked here by some masterful filmmakers who balance drama with thrills and cinematography with editing creating something truthful and exciting. They also bring to life a badass 12 or so year old character who makes Liam Neeson look lackadaisical when it comes to taking things back.
The Kid with a Bike at its core is a film about the importance of parental relationships in our formative years. Thomas Doret plays Cyril Catoul, a young lad stuck in a foster home and visiting his dad (I don’t recall his mother being mentioned at all?) on weekends. When the visits and communication become more and more sparse, Cyril’s heart is broken; he has a dad, however no idea why they can’t be together. This feeling of isolation and confusion becomes an attempt to flee his social captivity but to no avail, he made it to the flat but Daddy wasn’t there (Austin Powers will never die) which only leaves him more confused.
Later, Cyril is adopted on the weekends by the local hairdresser (Cécile De France) for reasons that aren’t explained but don’t really matter and is enticed further with her buying back his bike, previously sold by his father for reasons he can’t imagine but we can speculate over. Cyril’s character is definitely what sets this film above the majority though and really contrasts the maturities we have as children that we lose as we grow up against the advantages we gain from losing our innocence. The bike is a focal point for us as the audience to follow Cyril’s decision making and how he fights ferociously decisions being made for him.
Technically speaking, it’s a masterpiece. Close-up tracking shots mid-ride accentuate the happiness Cyril’s found in his own safe haven roaming the streets on his bike, conversely wider shots of him bombing down busy streets, a tiny lad, amongst people and cars kick our parental protective instincts into overdrive. The film is 87 minutes long because it’s edited like a work of art should be. Storytelling and editing intertwine magically about 30 minutes in when Cyril, the hairdresser and the Dad agree to meet in the town centre but Dad doesn’t show. “Let’s go to his house” but Cyril denies and heads off round the corner to check if he’s there but as he turns the corner we cut to them both walking up to Dad’s front door, emphasizing Cyril’s innocent blind faith.
All in all I have to say this film deserved every last drop of praise and every ounce of award it got back in 2011 when it was released. A young boy with the resolve of an action hero and the heart of.. well.. a young boy. I can’t recommend it more.