Friday, January 20, 2012
01-13-11: Compassion and Understanding Above All
THE KID WITH A BIKE (Le gamin au velo) (2011) (UNRATED) 87 mins. (French with English subtitles) ***1/2 D: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. Cecile De France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier.
After a chance meeting, Samantha, a hairdresser, agrees to foster Cyril, a young boy living at a youth farm. She soon discovers the complexities and difficulties of caring for a foster child who has only known abandonment and is eager for acceptance, even if it comes from the wrong people.
This slice of life drama features a very strong debut by young actor Thomas Doret. Cyril is an infuriating child but you can understand why he does what he does. He's misguided and lacks a compass. He simply doesn't know better. Cecile De France is very good as Samantha, a woman full of compassion and understanding. There are moments where you expect her to just send the boy back but she doesn't.
The Dardenne's pepper the film, which they co-wrote and co-directed, with many heartbreaking moments, a number of tense moments and a fair share of tender moments. As the film progresses they raise the stakes but never lose focus of the relationship between Samantha and Cyril. Characters make decisions that will no doubt contradict what the viewer thinks should have been done, either way it makes for some good drama. However in the end, you want the best for these two and when that is in clear jeopardy the audience is left holding their breath hoping for a happy ending.
It is a well acted, written and directed drama that captures the meaning of unconditional love, even for those we barely know.