Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s sublime tale of love and redemption begins with an 11-year-old boy in frantic, desperate motion. Refusing to acknowledge that he’s been abandoned by his father, Cyril escapes the children’s home where he’s been living, hoping to be reunited with his dad—and to find his lost bicycle. He returns to the apartment complex where they once lived, only to find a deserted flat. As the authorities from the children’s home catch up with him and try to bring him back, Cyril, refusing to return, tightly grips a total stranger, a kind, patient woman named Samantha (Cécile de France), who will prove to be the heartbroken boy’s savior. Samantha becomes the parent that Cyril so desperately needs, one who will soothe him during his rages and help him cope with the devastating news that his father never wants to see him again. The ferociously determined young protagonist of The Kid With a Bike, which is set, like most of the Dardennes’ films, in Seraing, Belgium, shares an iron will similar to that of the teenage title character in the brothers’ Rosetta (1999). Yet their latest film makes their most powerful exploration of human bonds—of selfless, unconditional caring.
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