The Dardenne brothers’ brand of social realist cinema is at once an expression of deep empathy and compassion for the working class and the underprivileged, simmering statements of defiance and anger aimed at the status quo, and layered portrayals of human relationships and frailties through a form that’s restrained and expressly unsentimental. The Kid with a Bike, with its theme of parental abandonment, disenchantment and social readjustments, is yet another fine elucidation of that. 12-year old Cyril (Thomas Doret) was taken into a Liège children's home upon being left in the lurch a month back by his irresponsible single father Guy (Jérémie Renier), a cook at a small restaurant struggling to make ends meet. Despite all indications suggesting that Guy has no intentions of taking him back – he’s in fact decided to sever all ties by making himself as unreachable to Cyril as possible – the young boy refuses to accept this harsh rejection, and keeps making one frantic attempt after another at establishing contact. Only when he’s befriended by Samantha (Cécile de France) – a lovely, patient and warmhearted coiffeuses, who even accepts him into her home – does this troubled, vulnerable and emotionally fraught kid finally start coming to terms with his painful rejection and new reality. Filmed in their quintessentially spare and rigorous cinema verité style, and comprising of naturalistic turns by both Doret and France, it’s a film that’s poignant yet hopeful, and dismal yet redemptive. Incidentally, in a choice laced with dark irony, Renier had played the pitiful dad in the Dardennes’ marvelous and tragic earlier film L’Enfant as well where he’d made the disastrous decision of ridding his baby as means to escape financial distress.
Director: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
Genre: Drama/Social Drama/Urban Drama