Saturday, July 4, 2015

'The Kid With a Bike': Uplifting tale of a boy's search for his dad

play an abandoned boy and the woman who helps him in his search for his father.
play an abandoned boy and the woman who helps him in his search for his father. Thomas Doret and Cecile de France
About the movie
The Kid With a Bike (Le Gamin au Velo)
MPAA rating:
for thematic elements, violence, brief language and smoking
Running time:
Release date:
Jérémie Renier; Cécile De France; Fabrizio Rongione; Thomas Doret; Egon Di Mateo
Directed by:
Luc Dardenne; Jean-Pierre Dardenne

A version of this review appeared in October during coverage of the Philadelphia Film Festival.

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are responsible for some bracing pieces of social realism - La Promesse, Lorna's Silence, The Child - films that explore the bleak terrain of trailer parks and public housing, of people caught up in prostitution, drugs, or simply struggling to get by. Damaged souls, looking for a life.

In The Kid With a Bike, the Dardennes train their camera on a fiercely determined 11-year-old, Cyril (an amazingly unself-conscious Thomas Doret), who has been abandoned by his father - and who finds a savior in the form of an empathetic hairdresser (Cecile de France). Cyril, trapped in a foster home, is determined to track down his deadbeat dad, and de France's Samantha, his guardian angel, gets caught up in the boy's sad, determined - and, it turns out, dangerous - quest.

The Dardennes' deceptively simple approach to storytelling, their attentiveness to place and people, and the incredible work they get from their actors are things to admire. Their films resonate on a deep emotional level - and The Kid With a Bike is no exception. The journey Cyril takes, and the help he gets from de France's Samantha - a woman whose own childhood, clearly, was permeated with pain - is a hard one. But it's uplifting, too, with moments of magic and grace. The Kid With a Bike grabs at the heart.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at


Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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