Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Kid with a Bike

Because the title only gives you so much information, the latest film by the Dardenne bros., The Kid with a Bike, is about a kid, Cyril, who is abandoned by his father. His father also happens to sell his bike in order to make some extra cash. As Cyril attempts to track down his bike and his deadbeat Dad, he meets a hairdresser named Samantha, who helps him in his search and agrees to let him stay over at her house on weekends.

The Cyril/Samantha relationship is the most essential one to the film, and if it fails, so does the film. Fortunately for the viewer, their relationship is absolutely captivating. The above photo is from a scene toward the end of the film when Samantha and Cyril go on a bike ride together; it's one of the most rewarding shots in the film. It comes at a point when Cyril realizes what he truly has in Samantha, someone who loves and protects him. She gives him the unconditional love he fails to gain in his relationships with his father and with a streetpunk named Wes. Another great moment in the film is when you know that Samantha begins to take on the role as Cyril's mother - when she chooses him over her boyfriend without hesitation in the car.

After I watched this film, I watched Trauffaut's The 400 Blows (which made for a perfect double-feature). If Antoine Doinel had someone like Samantha in his life, he never would've ended up at that juvenile center. And Cyril has some spunk to him. At the beginning of the film he's a handful and can seem annoying at times. But young actor Thomas Doret does a good job with the role and his character begins to grow on you toward the end.


The bike is an obvious symbol, but it's still very effective. Not only is it the only thing Cyril has left of his father, it's the mode of transportation that allows him to track him down. It's also because of the bike that Cyril meets those who change his life forever, for better and for worse. Because not only does the bike lead him to the best relationship of his life, and one he sorely needs, it also leads him back to the father who wants nothing to do with him, the dealer who tries to turn him into a thief, and the father/son duo who almost kill him.

The Kid with the Bike is about the choices you make, and if you make the wrong one, it can put you in precarious and/or dangerous situations. As Cyril hangs from the tree at the end of the film, you think back to how he got there and how quickly his situation spiraled out of control. And all because he wanted to connect with an older male figure, and was happy to do anything for him because he wanted to feel love and acceptance. It's a great moment when Cyril realizes that what he wanted the whole time was something he got almost instantly from Samantha.

The ending is powerful, because for a brief moment, you think that Cyril's newfound love and acceptance for Samantha will be short-lived. I have no idea how I would've felt about the film had that been the case. It would've been one of the most insane film endings I've ever seen. Luckily, I don't have to think about that too much. In end, Cyril picks himself up, brushes off the dirt, and heads off to the barbecue that you so badly want him to attend.

Lastly, I just want to comment on the father/son duo (Cyril's victims). What a strange moment it is for the father to say that if his son had murdered Cyril, he'd lie to the police about it. And yet, if any of us were in the same situation, we'd probably do the same. I don't know, it was a very interesting moment and it has stuck with me.

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