The Kid With A Bike

The classically Dardennian drama clinched the prestigious Jury Prize at Cannes - did it deserve it and should you check it out this week? Find out here...

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This is a very moving and cumulatively engrossing story, which could in lesser hands have been merely sentimental. The titular kid is 11-year-old Cyril ( Thomas Doret ), who has been consigned to a state-run group home .

Cyril\'s weak and callous father has abandoned him, selling his bike in the process, but the poor little tyke refuses to see reality -- or is incapable of it. Doret is phenomenally good as the desperate kid , and it is his complex and uncannily expressive performance which drives the film. Perhaps it\'s this portrayal which clinched its Jury Prize at Cannes.

In the course of his frantic attempt to track down his father Guy (Jeremie Renier), Cyril latches on -- quite literally -- to the big-hearted hairdresser Samantha ( Cecile de France ), who kindly agrees to let him stay at her place on weekends. Unfortunately, Samantha is very much an odd one out among the gaggle of adults with whom Cyril must contend. Worst of the lot is a reptilian thug and alleged dope-dealer called Wes ( Egon di Mateo ), who grooms him with flattery, charm and attention -- implicitly recognising that the boy is a sitting duck just waiting for a surrogate father-figure. In no time, Wes inveigles Cyril into playing Oliver to his latterday Fagin.

There are moments here which linger in the memory, not all of them unhappy or extreme: one is a sweet scene of quiet bonding between Cyril and Samantha. But the overall propulsive rhythm stays with us too. When Cyril rides around town and countryside on the retrieved bike, his relentless pedalling acts as a sort of symbol for his emotional intensity and his quixotic determination.

In The Kid With A Bike, Belgium\'s Dardenne brothers have crafted a subtle yet elemental and often terribly sad saga -- and an all-too believable one.

The Kid With A Bike is in cinemas now.


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