The Kid with a Bike
The Kid with a Bike is an independent French film written and directed by brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne about an abandoned adolescent boy who refuses to believe his father has left him. Doing everything he can to find him ends up being an emotional journey. The Kid with a Bike won the Grand Prize of the Jury award at the Cannes Film Festival and is nominated for Best Foreign film at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards and Golden Globes.
The film opens with a young boy named Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret) who is attempting to call his father’s phone number but the number is not in service. He does not want to believe that his father has abandoned him. After repeated failed attempts he makes a run for it out of the foster care farm. The counselors barely catch Cyril when he is about to climb over the fenced in wall. All he wants to do is find his father.
Cyril is reunited with his lost bike when a kind stranger named Samantha (Cécile De France) returns it to him. Immediately, he hops on the bike to show off his tricks with it. He asks where Samantha found it and she insisted that the neighborhood boy bought it from Cyril’s father. But Cyril does not believe that his own father would sell the bike. To him it is obvious that someone in the neighborhood stole it to make some money selling it back.
Now equipped with his bike, Cyril rides around to all the local establishments that he and his father have visited in hopes that one of them would know of his father’s whereabouts. He tries a bakery, automotive shop and pub but no one has seen him in the last month nor knows where he would have gone.
Coming up empty handed on leads for where his father could be, he seeks help from the only person that he knows to trust, Samantha. She agrees to watch him on the weekends but will prove to be more challenging than it seems. Watching over any adolescent is not easy but it is exponentially more difficult when the child is in the troubled state Cyril is in.
With the help of Samantha he finally meets up with his father. They locate him at a restaurant that his is working at but seems very standoff-ish to Cyril when asked why he did not come back for him. He seems to want little to do with Cyril. He does not even give him a phone number that Cyril can call, instead says that he will have to call him. Cyril is okay with all of his father’s excuses, he is just happy to see him again.
It is sad when a father wants nothing to do with his own son and that is exactly the case here. Guy pulls Samantha aside after they stop by the restaurant. He tells her he can no longer see Cyril anymore. She suggests bringing his son even just once a month but still Guy refuses. Guy is coward enough not to tell Cyril the truth, instead he instructs Samantha to break the news. Samantha does not oblige and forces Guy to tell Cyril directly.
Obviously the news is devastating to the little boy. He fells abandoned and not wanted. Without a father figure in his live he is in danger of hanging around the wrong crowd. Which is exactly what happens when a local gang leader takes him under his wing. Samantha must give it her all to protect Cyril from negative influences.
We were never given the full background on Samantha which is a shame. She seemed to thoughtlessly accept Cyril into her life. When the first impression of Cyril was him bursting into a hospital lobby running from counselors it seems a little far-fetched that the next thing she does is locate and buy the kid’s old bike for him. One thing is for certain, there needs to be more Samantha’s in the world.
That being said, The Kid with a Bike feels more like a fairy tale than anything else. It does a great job identifying you with the young boy who just wants his father to be in his life. But ultimately it lacks in details and background information and it will make you wonder where the boy’s mother was this whole time.