47th Annual CIFF: The Kid with a Bike

| October 10, 2011

In between childhood and adulthood are the growing pains of adolescence, in which one must struggle to become a mature human being. This is the focal point in The Kid with a Bike, the new film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, that is an absolute masterpiece and handles the subject gracefully by these two modern masters. We follow 11 year old Cyril (Thomas Doret), a boy who is abandoned by his father, Guy (Jeremie Renier) and causes problems at the foster home that he resides in. He escapes to try to find his bike and on his journey is introduced into Samantha (Cecile De France) a hairdresser that finds a liking to the boy and understands that he needs someone in his life to help him. As Samantha has decided to take him on the weekends, Cyril is forced into various situations and conflict that show his transformation into an adult.
Simplistic in it’s story and execution and yet is is in this simplicity that the Dardenne brothers prove that they are cinematic masters. Through the wonderful use of score by Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, we see the major decisions that Cyril makes in his transition from a child to an adult. It is played four times and each time we feel the weight of Cyril’s childhood fleeting. Thomas Doret does a fantastic job in the film and portrays the boy with such ferocity as he struggles with said growing pains. Cecile De France plays the motherly Samantha full of warmth and anguish as she tries to help Cyril have a normal childhood.
The Kid with a Bike won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this past year and deservedly so. The two brothers utilize many elements within filmmaking to encapsulate Cyril’s turmoil as this troubled child. Just about every time we see him, either on his bike or in the street, the shot’s are in constant motion, showcasing his life within a whirlpool of emotions. As we get further into the film, these shots become much more static and controlled. The film’s strength lies in it’s subtlety to tell this boys story and the challenges of what becoming an adult really means in terms of growing up, accepting responsibility on one’s behalf and their actions.
The Kid with a Bike is a great achievement and an elegant tale by the Dardenne brothers. While the tale is simple and executed in a straight forward fashion, it is in this simplicity that The Kid with a Bike shines. The struggles of adolescence is never easy for anyone, let alone for someone that has been abandoned by his family. The Kid with a Bike shows this struggle in a neo realist sort of sensibility with Cyril being the focus this tragic figure. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.

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