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The Kid with a Bike (2012)


Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 118
Fresh: 114
Rotten: 4

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

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 34
Rotten: 2

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


Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 24,548


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

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


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Critic Reviews for The Kid with a Bike

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (114) | Rotten (4) | DVD (1)

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

The film should be required viewing for everyone who has lost faith in the power of random acts of kindness.

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

This is a film that's not always easy to watch, but just about impossible to forget.

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

"The Kid With a Bike" vibrates with desperation, frustration and the simple unfairness of life, leavened with glimpses of hope.

Full Review… | March 30, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

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

The images speed by so fast that you hardly have time to think. But think you do. And what you think about most are all the lost and neglected children of the world.

Full Review… | June 2, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

French Loach.

Full Review… | March 24, 2013

The Dardennes have once again crafted a lean, efficient film that is plotted with singular purpose without hitting a false note.

Full Review… | March 11, 2013

Downbeat but powerful drama about childhood and love.

Full Review… | February 6, 2013
Common Sense Media

It's a powerful, well-crafted film and a striking depiction of a side of growing up few filmmakers have tried to put on film. Fewer still have captured it with this sort of honesty and emotional gravity.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
TV Guide's Movie Guide

[Thrusts] adults into the psychology of a child, pushing them into a confrontation with their own self-involvement.

Full Review… | August 22, 2012

The Dardennes smoothly shift one gear up in the film's coda, offering a sting of humility before a flash of quiet grace. Then we're left watching after one boy on his bike, stubbornly moving, moving, moving, a force to be reckoned with and respected.

Full Review… | July 24, 2012
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

A frank, no-nonsense drama filled with compassion for a lost soul kid abandoned by his father.

Full Review… | May 14, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

...a deeply humane movie that deserves to be compared with one of its obvious inspirations, Vittorio De Sica's neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves

Full Review… | May 12, 2012
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A moving, sweet and at times harrowing tale...

Full Review… | May 10, 2012

De France does a terrific job of balancing maternal instinct with matter-of-factness, in a performance that is more human than tender - and all the more powerful for it.

Full Review… | May 10, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Unlike many films, it genuinely earns every feeling it evokes.

Full Review… | May 9, 2012
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne make great movies with such regularity they can be easy to overlook, but The Kid With a Bike puts just enough spin on the Dardennes' formula to let you feel their worth anew.

Full Review… | May 3, 2012
Philadelphia City Paper

a complex interweaving of bitter reality and a deeply humane worldview that sees the possibility of redemption in even the cruelest of circumstances

Full Review… | May 1, 2012
Q Network Film Desk

A beautiful and stirring story of unconditional compassion, of emotional honesty, and -- above all -- of hope.

Full Review… | April 27, 2012

Audience Reviews for The Kid with a Bike

The Kid with a Bike can be a frustrating film to watch at times but only because it's so compelling and well acted. Thomas Doret is instantly believable as the abandoned boy looking for his father and in turn looking for somewhere to belong. It's a slow burner but the conclusion more than makes up for it, it's certainly one of my favourites of the year so far - I'll be looking into other films by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne asap.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


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

Don't be upset if it's not the way you dream it'll be.
Cyril Catoul:
I'm not dreaming.
– Submitted by Ahmad M (2 years ago)
He knows you're new!
– Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
Le libraire:
He'll forget me.
– Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)

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