The Kid with a Bike: Criterion Collection
March 1, 2013
The Kid with a Bike (2011) continues Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s fascination with scrappy, troubled protagonists that exist on the fringes of society. They are interested in telling stories about working class people in a realistic style and this film is no different.
Cyril (Doret) is an angry boy living in a group home. With dogged determination, he constantly tries to reconnect with his father Guy (Renier). To this end, he skips school and tries to run away from the home in order to locate his dad. However, all he finds are disconnected phone numbers and vacated addresses, but these do little to deter the boy. To say Cyril is a handful is an understatement.
During of his searches, he literally runs into a woman named Samantha (de France) who lives in an apartment building that his father used to live in. She finds and returns his beloved bicycle and a bond develops between them. Cyril ends up living with her on weekends. However, they get off to a rocky start as Samantha tries to figure out Cyril’s volatile behavior. She is determined to get through to the boy and show him the love and attention he so desperately wants from his father.
The Dardennes do an excellent job of gradually developing the relationship between Cyril and Samantha, like how he tests her commitment to him and how she gets him to lower his defenses. All Cyril wants is to be with his father, but it isn’t that simple. Guy doesn’t want to see his son and asks Samantha to take care of him. The raw emotions that the Dardennes are able to pull out of young Thomas Doret are extraordinary. At such a young age he’s not yet acquired self-conscious acting tics and delivers a visceral performance that has an authentic feel to it. Cecile de France is also very good as the compassionate woman that befriends Cyril. She loves the boy and provides his life with much needed structure and stability.
The Kid with a Bike is a character-driven drama rich in humanity, but devoid of sappy sentimentality that most films of this nature inevitably resort to. The Dardenne brothers have created a fascinating window into the lives of these intriguing characters.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray features a crisp, clear transfer with the colors popping and I can’t imagine it looking any better than when it was first shown in theaters.
The first disc includes a theatrical trailer.
The second disc starts off with an interview with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Rather fittingly, they begin talking about the origins of The Kid with a Bike. It was based on a story they were told while promoting a film in Japan. The two men touch upon the significance of the bicycle and why they made Samantha a hairdresser, among other aspects of the film.
Also included is an interview with actress Cecile de France. She talks about her initial impression of the screenplay and what drew her to the character of Samantha. The actress also talks about her approach to the role and working with Thomas Doret.
Thomas Doret is interviewed and admits that he never acted before. Making The Kid with a Bike was a learning experience for him. He talks about auditioning for the part and also discusses how he prepared for the role.
Finally, there is “Return to Seraing,” which sees the Dardennes return to five locations they used in the film. They talk about how they used each one in the film, going into detail about camera set-ups, actor placement and so on.