The Kid with a Bike

The Kid with a Bike

Postby CAP » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:20 pm

Paid good money to see this D’Ardennes Bros vehicleLe Gamin au vélo The Kid with a bike and was mildly satisfied. As an incorrigible Francophile I am but a moth to the flame where the likes of Cécile de France are billed. Sigh.

Alors! and wow didn’t Cess dress down for this one – looking every bit the brassy working class hairdresser – Cess as ‘Samantha’ is the film’s uncertain undertone, the motive that daren't speak its name. Liked and distrusted in equal measure. Forget Cess as the aloof femme fatale of countless features in years gone by – she’s pitching for the gnarled, muscular, middle-aged roles these days – more power to her! What’s gone is gone.

This is the new, softer, kinder D’Ardennes Brothers – the relentless grimness and despair given summary - and summery - treatment in a tale of a 12 year old orphan boy coming to terms with being abandoned by his feckless father (presumably dead mother and even grandparents) and clinging to his one real possession – his bicycle – sold by a scarpering dad but kindly recovered by the hairdresser from the housing estate where they had lived. The film is pumped as a rebellious child movie in the tradition of 400 Blows or Kes, but it’s not quite in that category.

There are qualms about Samantha’s motivation, since it’s scarcely explored. But clearly the D’Ardennes believe characters are allowed to have secrets from the audience. And significantly the issue is raised twice, by the kid himself when he asks Samantha why she’s doing all this for him (she’s takes him in on weekends in arrangement with the orphanage) and she frankly admits she doesn’t know. Later when out cycling and planning a barbeque, the kid again asks her who she’s inviting, or what her stake in the community get-together is, and this time she just laughs, amused both by his perceptiveness and her own blind needs. She is able to reach out to people so much easier now that she is a 'parent'. I have no trouble seeing how a single, middle-aged woman might be curious about parenting, at a tentative level, even as her ‘boyfriend’ has not quite turned into a live-in partner. Not everything needs to be spelled out.

The shame is that the film is bent on a somewhat abrupt and optimistic – almost fairytale – resolution. Thus the kid miraculously survives a twenty foot fall out of a tree unscratched and cycles off home leaving his enemies non-plussed. But if he had died or been seriously injured at that point, Samantha’s response would have been closer to the film’s heart.
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