Friday, March 23, 2012

The Kid with a Bike

Another pair of directing brothers (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne) hit theaters with the Belgian import "The Kid With a Bike," about Cyril (Thomas Doret), an 11-year-old boy whose cash-strapped father has abruptly left his apartment and seemingly abandoned his son. Cyril first seeks out his lost bicycle, refusing to believe his father could have sold it, then searches high and low for Dad, whom he finds but who forestalls further contact in a scene of unimaginable, near-existential rejection. Doret's performance never hits a false note, and Cecile de France, who first caught my attention in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter," gives an equally memorable turn as Samantha, a hairdresser who becomes a weekend guardian and ultimately a foster mother to Cyril, and who (to her considerable surprise) cannot bring herself to give up on him despite his almost animalistic acting-out. (When her boyfriend finally tells her, "It's either him or me," she takes about a picosecond to respond, "Him.") "The Kid With a Bike" has the naturalistic, almost documentary feel of an Agnes Varda or Jacques Doillon film; only a couple of plot-heavy detours toward the end keep it from greatness,

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