An incredibly stubborn kid, abandoned by his father at a boarding school, goes on a relentless search for that father, who tells him to his face that he doesn’t want to see him any more. Thankfully, he is adopted by a kindhearted hairdresser, who manages to save him — just barely — from a local thug who likes to use unassuming kids with daddy issues as accomplices in his petty crimes.
Another lean and powerful film from the Dardenne brothers – have they ever made a bad film? They get a remarkable performance from the kid (Thomas Doret) who runs everywhere he goes and is startlingly singleminded, stubborn and resourceful. I know it’s silly as they’re completely unrelated films thematically and tonally, but he reminded me of Jason Bourne. Brian Cox and those Treadstone folks should pay attention – he could be your next cold-hearted assassin.
Dardenne favorite Jeremie Renier plays the irresponsible dad, and his character is similar enough to the one he played in “L’Enfant” that this could be seen as a sequel to that film. I’m sure that’s not what the Dardennes had in mind, but I’m going to make the connection anyway.
I just realized that I haven’t seen all of the Dardenne films, and there’s no good reason for that. They are almost uniformly brilliant (the only one I’ve seen and not loved is the one everyone else loves the most: “Le Fils.” Too much over-the-shoulder handheld camera for me; I got tired of staring at Olivier Gourmet’s ear.) It’s time to remedy that. I’ll be watching, and posting about, the entire Dardenne catalog over the next few months. Next up: “L’Enfant.” Let’s see if it can really be considered a prequel to this fine film.
Verdict on “Kid With A Bike”: Highly recommended to lovers of artsy independent cinema. If you’ve loved the Dardenne brothers in the past, you’ll love this one, too.