Posted on 4/21/12 10:45 PM
It always astounds us as to how kids in films make us emotional. Yet again with TKWAB, we should be very much moved.
But this is not a direct emotionally-driven film. The kid, Cyril (Thomas Doret) is not the wisest kid on the block. He is not saving the world or helping aliens cross planets, but he is essentially memorable. The movie starts with him frantically grappling with his teacher, trying to call his father who has recently gone missing. But it is up to no avail, Cyril is left licking his wounds; he wants his papa, but cannot reach him.
The direction, by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, is very progressive. Cyril is made to be a hardened boy with a soft inside, always on a mission but still taking time to feel the emotions of a mere boy. The "Bike" part of the movie comes from his efforts of finding his bike, which his dad possesses. Though he does find it, his dad is still nowhere to be seen.
In the midst of it all, he bumps into Samantha (CÚcile De France). Samantha plays an integral part here, being Cyril's foster mother. CÚcile De France's performance is natural, showing the audience that she is a seasoned actress. Her scenes with Cyril are mostly filled with arguments and little fights, but in the more poignant scenes, CÚcile is really in control in terms of emotional direction.
Which brings us to the screenplay, also done by the directors. Mostly written to build Cyril's character, the script is short and sweet. Alright, maybe not sweet, because Cyril is not exactly the character you would root for. He is somewhat rude and impatient, with a ruthless streak to get what his wants. Then again, underneath all that, there is empathy for the child. He is made to fail in his efforts and this builds a common understanding in the viewers: he is just neglected, give him a break. The script keeps focusing on Cyril, so it is difficult not to feel for him.
Other cinematic effects like background sound and cinematography are the single tone of inspiration in between scenes to ensure continuity and the shots of Cyril and the background (there are not many face-face conversation close-ups). Overall, like most films, the acting, script and direction dictates this sort of things.
Not as uplifting as you had expected, but still one worth crediting for acting and good narration.
Personally*... How do you fake a cut in a scene? Samantha gets a cut on the arm, but how do you edit the scenes to make it bloody? Is she really cut?