Monday, April 02, 2012

"The Kid with a Bike": small (Sundance) Belgian film hits parental responsibility hard

A French film chosen by “Sundance Selects”, “The Kid with a Bike” (“Le gamin au velo”), directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, certainly plays the “family values” card.  (Curiously, imdb calls this “Untitled Dardenne Brothers Project”.)

Cyril (Thomas Doret) has been left in a state orphanage by his father, who has apparently even sold this kid’s bike to make ends meet.  Out of a random encounter with compassion, a hairdresser Samanta (Cecile de France) takes him on part time as a foster child. Cyril gets his bike back, but his dad, a chef, says he doesn’t want anything to do with his son anymore.  Cyril then goes out into the streets and has to make it in a world of drug dealers and petty criminals, one of whom, Wes (Egon Di Mateo), actually behaves like a father figure, but just for a while.  Cyril learns his street smarts very quickly, but risks a tragic outcome.  Doret plays the role with great energy.

The official site for the film is here.  The film was shot in Liege, Belgium and is in very idiomatic French (subtitles)
Some observers say that this movie reminds them of Vittorio Di Sica’s 1948  “Bicycle Thieves” (“Ladri di biciclette”), where a man and his son search post-war Rome for a stolen bicycle, necessary for his billboard business.   This classic BW film is a favorite of screenwriting teachers.  

The movie may seem ironic because of jokes made about some copyright litigation (the Righthaven cases, discussed on my main blogs) with metaphors about a kids' book "The Bike Lesson". 

I saw this at the AMC Shirlington on a Monday night, before a small crowd, in a big auditorium.
Les filmes du fleuve (the production company) has a trailer:

Wikipedia attribution link for Belgian “tchantches” which I think I saw in the Brussels train station in 2001 (along with a lot of clowns on stilts).  These dolls remind me of a couple of small independent films made in Minneapolis around 2002 by Josh Margolis (and his Silogram Pictures), "Joanie Loves Tchotchkies" and "Joanie Loves Furbies", shown at the "Flaming Film Festival" (sponsored by Intermedia Arts on Lyndale Ave.), in which Josh appears in drag in one film.  

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