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The Kid with a Bike

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Coming to Cannes 2011:

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Cyril, almost 12, has only one plan: to find the father who left him temporarily in a children’s home. By chance he meets Samantha, who runs a hairdressing salon and agrees to let him stay with her at weekends. Cyril doesn’t recognize the love Samantha feels for him, a love he desperately needs to calm his rage…
Edited by Overstreet

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By the way, IMDB has this listed as "Set Me Free."

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French trailer (no subtitles).

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That trailer is magnificent. I really like the way they Jeremie Renier has grown with them over the years.

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Does this is a love story. Do they love each finally? I hope the ending is not so sad!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, tasty

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I gotta admit...that title sounds like some direct to video film you would find in the family section of the video store. If we still had video stores. :)

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I gotta admit...that title sounds like some direct to video film you would find in the family section of the video store. If we still had video stores. :)

If they had used "boy" instead of "kid", it might not have felt that way. Then again, maybe "kid" is closer to a slang feeling they wanted in the title. My French is pretty rusty, though.

That brings up the issue of how translation affects our response to a foreign language film. An interesting example of translation choice perhaps being harmful to a film: In Andrei Rublev, the Russian title that comes on the screen at the start of one of the segments is translated "Charity". However, my Russian (better than my French) tells me that the most common translation of that particular word is "Love". The title "Love" obviously has more impact on the viewer than "Charity", and I would guess that Tarkovsky intended the former.

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The movie's original title is apparently Le gamin au vélo, and Babelfish, at least, translates "gamin" as "kid". I do know that the usual French word for "boy" is "garçon".

BTW, is this film called The Kid with *the* Bike or The Kid with *a* Bike? It seems to depend on which website you check.

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Jeffrey Wells, classy as always:

I'm saying right now that I'm not especially looking forward to Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne's The Kid With The Bike, which is playing in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. For one thing I don't like movies about red-haired kids with high-pitched voices who wear red T-shirts. I don't much care for movies about kids, period. I once had a place in my heart for this kind of thing but no longer. Especially with kids like this in the lead. I'm just being honest.

I have news for all young kids dealing with absent or abusive parents. Life is hard so you may as well grim up and deal with it and stop trying to make me empathize with your plight. I can tell you stories about my own messed-up childhood that'll tear your heart out.

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Mike D'Angelo, Jeffrey Wells and possibly others are calling this film "minor" Dardennes. Though D'Angelo -- who technically called the film "really minor" -- went on to qualify that by saying, "Upon reflection, not sure "minor"s le mot juste. LORNA felt to me like a tentative step in a new direction. This feels like a retread."

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It's just won Le Grand Prix at Cannes, in a tie with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.

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House Next Door:

Astoundingly unsentimental yet consistently heart-squeezing.

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House Next Door:

Astoundingly unsentimental yet consistently heart-squeezing.

In other words, it's a Dardenne movie.

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The frustrating thing about Dardenne films is that they're consistently brilliant and consistently consistent, which makes them difficult to write about. This one is closest in spirit to Rosetta in that you're dealing with a young, obsessively-determined protagonist (one friend joked that Rosetta could've been called The Kid with the Waffle Stand).

My favorite thing about the Dardennes is the way they tell their stories through the bodies of their actors. I recently rewatched The Son for the first time in several years and marveled again at how much emotion they can derive from the back of Olivier Gourmet's head and shoulders. The Kid with the Bike works the same way. I'm convinced the lead actor must never have seen another movie or TV show, because he's so natural and present. When he runs, he's all forward momentum and elbows -- desperation personified.

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Pete Hammond, surveying the Best Foreign Film Oscar contenders, says:

I am a bit surprised to see Belgium select Bullhead over their Cannes prize winner The Kid With A Bike from the highly respected Dardenne Brothers and also over Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight grand prize winner , the brilliant coming-of-age story Les Geants.

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Jonathan Rosenbaum:

The Kid with a Bike has its own version of the complexity of the modern world, but its grasp of simple narrative exposition is so masterful that it doesn’t pause long enough during its spare 87 minutes to underline or boast about it. Although it eventually evolves into a crime thriller of sorts, and one with violence that is every bit as shocking in its own way as what one finds in Drive, its art-movie trappings are fairly minimal. Apart from an unnecessary and lamentable belt-and-suspenders strategy to inject brief orchestral passages from Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto at periodic intervals to foster a sense of gravity that is already fully apparent, the Dardenne brothers’ parable about an 11-year-old boy learning how to cope with being abandoned by his only parent is utterly free of sentimentality, complacency, or rhetoric. It doesn’t even bother to make its young hero especially likable. But as storytelling that is both streamlined and nuanced, I think it deserves to stand alongside Lang and Hawks rather than next to any of the arthouse blowhards cited above. This is the only film I’ve attended so far at the Chicago International Film Festival, and it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen all year –- and quite possibly the best thing by the Dardennes since Rosetta.

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FWIW, I'm seeing this Friday night. If anyone else is in the area that night and watches to catch it too, let me know.

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I've struggled with Dardenne(s) films, but this one I connect to much better than the others.

Something minor about this thread, the English film title is The Kid with a Bike.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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This morning I showed my daughter her first film, The Red Balloon (1957). I hadn't seen it for years and, so, wasn't at all expecting to be constantly reminded of The Kid with the Bike. When I stepped out of the screening in Toronto last month, I told a friend, "Only the Dardennes could wreck me with a red sweater." So much of the emotion in that film, as in The Red Balloon, is generated graphically -- a dancing spot of red against a grey backdrop. It's a kind of avant-garde op-art, really. Combine that with the kid's desperate performance and the beautiful, unexplained grace of the foster mother, and you've got an explosive combination. So glad you enjoyed it, Darrel.

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By the way, IMDB has this listed as "Set Me Free."

Interesting. In its list of alternate titles, the IMDb no longer lists that one. (It also doesn't list The Kid with the Bike.)

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This morning I showed my daughter her first film, The Red Balloon (1957). I hadn't seen it for years and, so, wasn't at all expecting to be constantly reminded of The Kid with the Bike.

No kidding. It's not even subtle. And it isn't just the red balloon/red jacket connection. The action and composition in several scenes, right down to the framing of a narrow alley, are insisting on the relationship between these films.

There's a prolonged shot of him riding fast on the bike during which his jacket fills up with wind. In The Red Balloon, the balloon seems to suggest a fragile innocence, or the boy's spirit... something breakable that the cruel world is breaking. Here, the "balloon" seems to be the boy's life itself. And what was a gesture of supernatural, fairy tale grace in Balloon becomes something much more tangible, human, and hopeful (in my opinion). Balloon seemed to suggest that our dreams will save us. Kid With a Bike suggests that, no, sometimes human beings are moved - mysteriously - to show love and grace. I'm only just beginning to ponder how Bike revises Balloon, but I'm excited by the idea.

Combine that with the kid's desperate performance and the beautiful, unexplained grace of the foster mother, and you've got an explosive combination.

And the white stripe on his jacket. The importance of water. And the "warm breath."

The Dardennes seemed more playful in their image composition here than ever before. For example, when the boy remarks on the woman's "warm breath," it sets us up for a great moment later when he leans his head against her in the car, and she turns her head and looks down at him. As she does,

the arrow-shaped logo on the center of the steering wheel is pointing at her slightly parted lips, reminding us again of her breath.

And she breathes over him. The spirit moves.

So that's the *fourth* movie to join my 2011 top ten list since January 1, 2012.

Edited by Overstreet

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Glenn Kenney just tweeted a link to a "prelude" to his full review, calling Bike a 5-star film.

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Wow. I'm with Kenney. Right after I saw it, I tweeted:

Finally saw THE KID WITH A BIKE. Minor Dardennes? Only if you consider stories about children "minor."

and

... If Bresson had made THE RED BALLOON, it might have been THE KID WITH A BIKE.

I'm so excited to review this film.

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