The Kid With A Bike - Blu-ray Review

'A soaring orchestra shows up on occasion to tell you to feel happy or sad as appropriate but other than that The Kid With A Bike ends up being a film slight on emotional resonance'

An affable fable of kindness, anger and The Trouble With Growing Up, it would be easy to pass The Kid With A Bike off as a harmless, gentle whimsy, pleasant enough to relax to for a slight eighty-seven minutes. Indeed, partially at least, that description is accurate. There's little challenging here and leads Thomas Doret and C├ęcile De France are charming company, the positive narrative of the latter's helping hand extending to the former's troubled youngster a nice change of tone in darkly cynical times.

There is, to a point, brave storytelling here too from writing and directing brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Backstory is eliminated completely. Inference is king. We don't need to flashback to Cyril's (Doret) childhood. We know it was tough, we know his estate is somewhat harsh, we uncover the deceit of his father as he too uncovers it. On many levels this is extremely clever film-making, showing the audience everything as the script is allowed to concentrate on the story in the present.

This though, is where The Kid With A Bike falls down. By eliminating the drama that would come with back story, the brothers Dardenne force the focus on to a present day tale whose actions are so gentle they become mundane. The introduction of local villain Wes (Egon Di Mateo) feels like a desperate plea to spice things up, a nagging suspicion that increases as the directors allow the focus to drift from Cyril's relationship with Samantha (De France) and on to his interactions with his new 'friend'. It starts to feel like we've been here before and the lack of Cyril and Samantha together late on makes it difficult to invest too much in the characters.

As the film peters out into a predictably open-narrative conclusion, you're left mainly to ponder the form and worth of the story you've just watched. A soaring orchestra shows up on occasion to tell you to feel happy or sad as appropriate but other than that The Kid With A Bike ends up being a film slight on emotional resonance and largely bereft of dramatic happenstance. It's a curious flop. A spectacularly non-offensive, gentle failure.



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