Sunday, April 8th, 2012


The kid in the title is 11-year-old Cyril and the bike
is his means to whiz around the small Belgian town desperately looking for his
father who abandoned him in a Children’s Home and who has never bothered coming
back even to visit.  Cyril breaks out of
the Home one day with the Social Workers in hot pursuit and they track him down at
the empty apartment his father had once lived in, and in the subsequent chase he bumps into
Samantha a pretty young woman who he clings too asking for her help.
Its she that locates his bike and returns it to him and even though Cyril shows little gratitude to this stranger’s kindness, he
nevertheless persuades her to come back the next weekend to become his ‘foster
family’ so that he can spend a night or two out of the Home.
Together they track the father down to only discover
that he has a new girlfriend and a new job and he wants absolutely nothing to
do with Cyril which breaks the kids heart. 
He takes his frustration out on Samantha and in a bid to get accepted by
someone, he hooks up with local teenage hoodlum who persuades Cyril to stage a
The robbery, like poor Cyril’s life to date, goes
terribly wrong and could/should be his downfall.  It isn’t though as this gritty tale is a
story about love and redemption, and has probably got the happiest ending ever
seen in a Dardennes brother’s movie (which isn’t saying an awful lot!)
These Belgian Filmmaker brother’s movies seem to all
deal with abandoned or alienated children, and the ‘baddie’ always seem to be
the dad.  Although to be totally fair,
the Dardennes seem intentionally to not make moral judgments or even take
sides.  If anything they seem to have a compassion with their characters which makes them (and the plot) so much more
The mystery in this their latest (and probably best)
movie is Samantha, as there is no hint at all why she should take this handful
of a mixed up kid under her wing. After a particular temper tantrum from
Cyril, Samantha’s rather frustrated boyfriend asks her to choose between him and
Cyril.  And without hesitating, she
chooses the kid.  And at one point Cyril
asks Samantha why she has taken him on, she claims she really doesn’t know
why.  And nor do we.
This their 3rd Cannes Palme Do’r Winner ….
a record that’s probably unmatched by any other director.  It’s an award well deserved as you are drawn
in completely from the first opening scenes and get totally invested in this
young kid’s story as he pedals so frantically around town.  They have an uncanny way of telling the most
emotionally compelling stories of some very brutal relationships in the most refreshingly
straightforward and simple pared down manner.
I should also say that good casting helps too.  Samantha is played by the wonderful Cecile De France; Jeremie Renier who played the kid on the scooter in the Dardenne’s ‘La Promesse’ in 1996, now plays the Dad, and very talented young Thomas Dorn played Cyril.  Maybe he’ll be back in 20 years playing someone else’s dad too.
P.S. Credit where it is due.  This movie was on my radar when I first read
about it, but I am indebted to Dana Keith the Director of the Miami Beach
for putting on a whole Dardennes Brothers Retrospective that has helped me discover their earlier work and made me total fan.


Posted by queerguru  at  02:56


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