Though well crafted, boasting some fine performances and an intriguing storyline, The Kid With A Bike (Dardenne Brothers, 2011) is a ‘safe’ film, with nothing outstanding about it. It’s interesting and keeps one entertained, but the drama is almost too logical; the story plays out exactly as one would expect of a film like this. The relatively minimalist and inoffensive imagery and score contribute little to the story, apart from the underlying structure. For example, the only music in the film is a short (10 seconds or so) classical piece that appears three times in the film — the beginning, middle, and end — as if indexing the story.
For the most part, I didn’t feel much for the film; however, the ending is where it really drives home. While not being strong enough to redeem the film from it’s ordinariness, the end scene leaves a deep final impression that speaks volumes about the character of Cyril. As most 11 year-olds living with a troubling family-life, Cyril is stubborn, fueled by intense emotional outbreaks, and, most of all, resilient to the bone.
As he slowly gets up, brushes himself off, gets back on his bike, and rides away, the truth of childhood isolation recoils in one’s mind. The simplicity, and yet overwhelmingly powerful, thought-scape of childlike emotional whirlwinds — the kind one only begins to experience around the age of Cyril — reinstates itself in one’s mind. One remembers a time when, like Cyril, a struggling yearning for freedom, release, and openness — that which the bike itself represents — is felt. In fact, I remember when, in times of discomfort, I, like Cyril, would lay my hands under warm, running water; such a basic pleasure would temporarily alleviate the pain. This direction of thought only exists in the mind of a child, though, as adults, we may all relate to it, and even take lesson from Cyril’s image of childhood resilience.
I will leave this post with two songs by Sage Francis, the lyrics of which, upon completion of the film, kept appearing in my mind, as if echoing the nature of Cyril. Perhaps it’s because, at Cyril’s age, I used music as my ‘bike’, permitting my mind to flow free, and the following tracks by Sage Francis are ones that echo my own childhood.