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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Critic Reviews for The Kid with a Bike
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.
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.
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.
The film should be required viewing for everyone who has lost faith in the power of random acts of kindness.
This is a film that's not always easy to watch, but just about impossible to forget.
Audience Reviews for The Kid with a Bike
Although interesting at first, this drama is a frustrating effort that doesn't seem to have much to say, while the characters are not well constructed or developed, the conflicts seem artificial and, more annoying than anything else, the young protagonist is way too unlikable.
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.
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.
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