Page 1 of 3
The latest from the Dardenne brothers gets a grade-A high-def edition from Criterion....
Criterion / 87 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: February 12, 2013
Criterion has gone Dardenne-crazy in the last eighteen months – this is the third high-def release from Jean-Pierre and Luc in that period. These beloved filmmakers bring a rag-tag, hand-held sensibility to their movies that make them decidedly unique and identifiable: it only takes a second to recognize that the guys in charge of Rosetta and La promesse are behind The Kid With a Bike, the Belgian brothers’ latest tale of ennui and search for identity in a disorienting modern world.
Our central aim in the film is tethered to young Cyril’s (Thomas Doret’s) search for his dad. As it happens, this figure all but fully rejects Cyril, who point-blank states that he’d rather have the little rugrat in an orphanage than to have to deal with him in any sort of familial fashion. There’s a woman named Samantha (Cecile de France) who is willing to help tend to the boy on weekends, but it’s not enough – before we know it, a slippery hooligan of a fellow (Egon Di Mateo) comes on the scene and takes advantage of Cyril’s family-starved weaknesses.
Like L’enfant and so many other efforts from the Dardennes, there’s compelling and often existentially fascinating themes at hand in The Kid With a Bike, but I find myself still wishing there was a little more depth in terms of the brothers’ style as a whole. The Kid With a Bike is certainly a sad, elegiac tale well told, but the moral ambiguity of the picture feels cold and almost vacant. This is quite likely the effect the Dardennes were aiming for, but as accomplished as this new film often is, one wishes there was a bit more at stake within its dramatic geography.