The Kid with a Bike (2012)



Critic Consensus: Thanks to the Dardenne brothers' typically fine direction, The Kid with a Bike is a heart-wrenching, thematically and spiritually rich drama.

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Movie Info

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the deeply moving new film by the Dardenne brothers delves into the emotional life of troubled 11-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret). When his father (Jérémie Renier) abandons him, Cyril obsessively searches for his bicycle - placing his last bit of hope in this symbol of their relationship. Almost by accident, he becomes the ward of a kind hairdresser (Cécile de France), who … More

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, violence, brief language and smoking)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 12, 2013
Box Office: $1.4M
IFC Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Kid with a Bike

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (36)

The directing by the Dardenne brothers reflects their previous work: it wants to be unnoticed either for virtuosity or clumsiness, yet only virtuosos can attain this ideal.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

It's nonetheless immensely satisfying - not least in its commitment to a child protagonist whose near-feral intensity and unthinking ingratitude make him the polar opposite of cute.

Full Review… | January 8, 2013
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

There is not a wasted shot in this stripped down, pared back fable. Yet, it accrues a deep and lasting power. You won't see many better this year.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
Top Critic

Seriously, enough is enough.

Full Review… | October 7, 2015
Critic's Notebook

The movie is so quiet that everything starts to feel heightened; the smallest motions carry great weight, and something as minor as a slammed door causes you to gasp.

Full Review… | July 2, 2013

A complicated unflinching look at a boy struggling to thrive in a harsh world.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

Audience Reviews for The Kid with a Bike


Coming of age tales heavily rely on the emotional connection that audiences share with the protagonist. If we can't identify with the star, then the story may not have merit. Even the best child actors can drift into precociousness. This is not the case here, as young actor Thomas Doret is captivating in a natural rendition. The Dardenne brothers get credit for allowing our lead character to just react. When faced with the reality of his situation, he underplays, sometimes in silence, which speaks much louder than any dialogue ever could. His acting is less of a performance than the candidly captured portrait of an actual 11 year old boy. He commands attention.

Doret's talent makes up for the bare bones details that sometimes remain underdeveloped. Yet the sketchiness of the narrative feels like real life. For me the hardest thing for me to understand was his dad's capacity to disassociate from his pre-teen son. How could a father abandon his child after 11 years so easily? The justification he gives doesn't substantiate the magnitude of his decision. At first the lack of specifics is frustrating. However It provided a justification for Cyril's subsequent misbehavior. The youngster's inability to accept his father's abandonment matched mine. He was an unruly little boy but I felt as he did. Despite his unmanageable behavior, Cyril always remained a sympathetic individual at heart.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

A Belgian boy tries to reunite with the father who abandoned him; a single hairdresser takes an interest in his plight. Young Thomas Doret is excellent as the understandably troubled boy who craves love but instinctively sabotages his chances in this thoughtful heartstring-tugger.

Greg S

Super Reviewer


The Dardennes Brothers' "The Kid with a Bike," which tied for second prize at Cannes last year, is what you would expect from this filmmaking team: a brutally frank depiction of human callousness. Here the victim is a boy about 10 years old suddenly and inexplicably abandoned by his father, his only parent.

The film opens with the boy already in an orphanage. The abandonment has just happened. The boy is frantically looking for his father, seeming to be in denial about what is going on. Quite serendipitously, he meets a generous woman in her 30s who starts to care for the boy just as inexplicably as his father stopped.

She helps him in his quest to find Dad and tries to re-stabilize his life. But all is not rosy. The boy becomes intensely devoted to a drug dealer who is expert at manipulating lost boys. Watching this older boy "seduce" the younger boy by acting like a big brother is fascinating.

This film has a brilliantly acute sense of how gangs attract lost children by giving them a feeling of belonging. Scratch the surface of most young boys, and what you get is a profound need to feel loved by older boys. Make a lost boy feel loved, and he'll do almost anything for you. --unfinished--

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

The Kid with a Bike Quotes

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