I am an idiot. This fact has been confirmed by my refusal to see ‘The Kid with a Bike’ because I felt it would be ‘boring’. Luckily, I weakened in my resolve and went along to see the Dardenne brothers latest.
Even then I loitered for some time outside before finally deciding to see it. After all what could a pair of Belgians show me about making films?
Quite a lot as it happens.
‘The Kid with a Bike’ is a heart rending and timeless classic that deals with the subject of a boy abandoned by his father and left in an orphanage, without becoming maudlin and sentimental.
The kid in question is called Cyril and is not some poor innocent waif. On the contrary, he is a total pain in the ass who seems to have an unerring knack for doing the most annoying thing he can in all circumstances.
Naturally we understand why. He is struggling to come to terms with the brutal reality of his father’s lack of love. He lashes out at those around him and he seeks solace in friendships with people who care nothing for him. In short he is as vulnerable as its possible to be and still be alive.
Thankfully he has one thing going for him. A hairdresser, Samantha, who in spite of herself wants to give him the care he lacks. He quest leads to her boyfriend leaving her but still she persists in spite of Cyril’s increasingly erratic behavior.
Her battle reaches a crescendo in a scene where he stabs her with some scissors and escapes the house in order to perform a robbery for the local drug dealer.
The whole scene has us mouthing the words ‘Don’t do it!’ all the while knowing our protestations are pointless. Cyril has no moral compass, just his craving for acceptance and love in a world that has precious little of it.
The heroine of the whole piece is of course Samantha. The reason goes beyond her desire to give love. It’s also bound up with a quality that hardly any one else in the film possesses, that of forgiveness.
She can forgive Cyril his anti-social behavior and his violent outbursts and through that forgiveness he learns to love her.
Making the film more than just a great piece of cinema but also a teachable lesson.