English Title: The Kid with a Bike
Original Title: La gamin au vélo
Country: Belgium, France, Italy
Cécile De France
Egon Di Mateo
A Febiofest screening of Dardenne Brothers’ latest film, I have miraculously finished it without English subtitles, because as a cinema purist I would not indulge myself into a talkie from which I could not understand a single word, yet, Dardenne brothers prove that some films are beyond languages and shares a universal empathy.
I could not self-claim that I belong to the inner circle of hardcore Dardenne fanboys, I have only watched their two other films before, THE CHILD (2005) and LORNA’S SILENCE (2008). But their influences are growing on me. The film grittily follows their principle of consistency, a point-of-view depiction of social margin’s dire straits, this time the linchpin is a deserted boy from a foster care house, with a Dardennes’ regular Jérémie Renier as the pitiless father, which could be interpreted as a sequel of THE CHILD.
There is some reluctance emitting from the hyperactivity of the in-depth characterization of the newcomer Thomas Doret’s upfront bluntness, which has even triggered a shade of loathsomeness towards the wayward boy, tellingly Thomas owns an elastic flexibility between cute and annoying, which exacts a real-life impersonation reminds of THE 400 BLOWS (1959) (which I ashamedly have yet completely finished). Leading lady in French cinema Cécile De France, who is actually coming from Belgium, shoulders a brave transformation to befit the film’s understated style as an unglamorous hairdresser who harbors the boy with a touching maternal affection.
Music score astoundingly being used many times here which defies the usual Dardenne brothers’ natural recording gambit (however it is not the first time since in LORNA’S SILENCE, they have broke their rules already, this time they plainly enlarge the amount), and a big plus is from the punchline near the end, masterfully maneuvered in an anti-climax pathos and simply heightens the powerful impact on the atonement windup.