Monday, 27 August 2012

The Kid with a Bike

A troubled young boy Cyril (Thomas Doret) lives in a Children’s Home after his father decided he was no longer able to cope with caring for him. Unable to accept this, the boy escapes the Home and goes back to the apartment that he and his father shared. Finding him gone, the boy continues to run from the Home’s staff before clattering into a woman in a Doctor’s waiting room while yelling about his missing bike. Later, the same woman is able to track down the bike and brings it to the Home and the boy asks if he can stay with her at weekends. The woman, a hairdresser called Samantha (Cecile de France) accepts and the boy spends time with her while she attempts to free him from the anger and rage that keeps getting him into trouble.

I first heard about this film last May when it won the Jury Prize at Cannes. I’d wanted to see it at the cinema but being a Belgian film about an angry boy and a bicycle I was unable to find it in the city of 3 million people in which I live. Although I was disappointed not to get to see it at the cinema, now I have seen it I don’t feel like I was missing out. While it’s an interesting story about two very different relationships, I didn’t personally enjoy it as much as the reviews I’d read suggested I would.

One of the problems I had with the film was a lack of back story for the Samantha character. I can understand the film makers’ idea to make her more enigmatic or to take her previous history out of the equation but I found it difficult to understand why a seemingly normal hairdresser would want to take on a troubled child whom she barely knows just because he asked her to. What’s more, I found it very difficult to believe that she would have kept him after some of the things he does during the film. The boy is a right little shit. At one point when he rides off on his bike after a fight with Samantha my girlfriend belted out “Just let ‘im go”. I felt like saying the same. Maybe I’m missing the point that the film is about the woman’s attempts to help the boy redeem himself but I just thought that he was an annoying kid with a sad back story.   

The father-son relationship did make me feel sorry for the child and it was horrible to see a father treat his son with such disdain. For that reason I can begin to understand Samantha’s reasons for taking the boy on but it still felt a little far fetched to me. One area of the film that felt odd was the depictions of the rough youths on the estate. The teenagers never swore which felt strange but gave the film a fairytale like quality which having read subsequent to watching is something the Directors were aiming for. They also saw the Samantha character as a kind of good fairy character but that isn’t something I picked up on. One thing the film did create inside was a feeling of worry for the boy. Every time he crossed a road or approached older kids I thought to myself that this was it and he was about to get into some serious trouble. Considering I didn’t like the kid, it was clever of the film to still make me worry about him.  

I thought that young Thomas Doret’s acting was incredible for a boy so young and Cecile de France was infinitely better than in the only other film I’ve seen her in, the quite frankly very poor Clint Eastwood drama Hereafter. The cinematography was quite beautiful and the two leads appeared to have good chemistry. Overall The Kid with a Bike is a nice film with some nasty moments and a happy ending. It isn’t one of my favourite films of the year but it is in no way bad.    


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