The Kid With A Bike (12A)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
FACT Picturehouse
From 23rd March 2012

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Despite the lavish praise being heaped upon this latest film by cult directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne in various media quarters, I found it tedious and insubstantial.

Most annoying was the eleven-year-old child at the centre of the movie, Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret), who you are supposed to empathise with because of his abandonment by his father. Without sounding callous I would not have blamed his papa, Guy (Jeremie Renier), for doing so!

He constantly behaves appallingly, to the extent that he carries out, with the persuasion of a local drug dealer - the story is set in a largely working class French town - an attack on a local shopkeeper, using a baseball bat, robbed him of his takings while he was lying knocked out on the ground, and also clobbered his son, who had come to his aid. Only in filmland would the brat get off scot free.

Furthermore he enjoys biting people and basically giving everyone, including those who genuinely want to help him, a hard time.

This includes Samantha (Cecile De France), a hairdresser, who agrees, implausibly, and somewhat to her cost, to foster him at weekends, as a break from him being based in a children's home. She also helps him in tracking down his dad, which ultimately proves a fruitless exercise.

Although the father is a villified figure for his actions, there is no mention whatsoever of the whereabouts of Cyril's mother, or why she had left him and her partner. If she is alive she is also equally culpable for the neglect of her offspring.

This movie has been compared to the classic Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves, directed by Vittorio De Sica in 1948. Do me a favour!

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