The Kid with a Bike

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Kid with a Bike Movie Poster Image
Downbeat but powerful drama about childhood and love.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 87 minutes

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Generally, the movie seems to be saying that kids long for attention, and if they can't get it from their parents, they'll get it from other places, even from criminals. Responsible adults can step in and possibly turn young destinies back toward a positive path.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cyril is not necessarily a role model; he's hurting after being rejected by his dad, and in his anger, he acts out, fights, and commits crimes. But Samantha is a fine role model, taking on the responsibility of a child without seeming to have any motivation other than the goodness of her heart.


Cyril gets into a couple of brief fights, mostly pushing and wrestling, one after having caught a bike thief. During a robbery sequence, he hits an adult and an older boy with a baseball bat. In one scene, an older boy throws rocks at Cyril; a rock hits him, knocks him out of a tree, and briefly knocks him unconscious. Adults handle Cyril fairly roughly in one or two scenes, trying to control him after he has acted out.


"F--k" is heard once, "s--t," twice, and "a--hole," once.


An older boy tempts Cyril with an offer to play Assassin's Creed on the PlayStation PS3. (The game is not shown, but can be heard offscreen.) Coke and Fanta soft drinks are mentioned, and Cyril chooses a Fanta.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older teen character is said to be a drug dealer, though no drugs or deals are ever shown. The older teen smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Kid with a Bike is a very downbeat, but highly acclaimed French drama about an 11-year-old boy whose father refuses to take care of him and the boy's attempts to deal with being abandoned. The movie contains some fighting, a robbery sequence in which people are hit with a baseball bat, and a scene in which the 11-year-old hero is knocked unconscious with a rock (offscreen). There's also some very brief language, including one use of "f--k," one use of "a--hole," and two uses of "s--t" (all in subtitles). One older teen character is said to be a drug dealer -- though no drugs are shown -- and he smokes a cigarette. Though the movie is rated PG-13, the material is very mature and complex. However, it has its hopeful aspects, and viewed with parents, the movie could lead to some interesting discussions.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 February 10, 2013

Short, sweet take on coming of age

This little French film had generated a lot of buzz a couple years back, and I finally caught it on an independent film channel. The ending threw me off a bit,... Continue reading

What's the story?

Cyril (Thomas Doret) is an 11-year-old kid living in a boys' home. He's a quick thinker and a crafty liar, but also desperately looking for love. He dreams of living with his father, a selfish, childish lout (Jeremie Renier), who wants nothing to do with the boy. When Cyril's bike is stolen, a hairdresser, Samantha (Cecile De France), helps him find it. Cyril spontaneously asks if he can stay with her on weekends, and she quickly agrees. But just as things start to go well, a local thug, Wes (Egon Di Mateo), recruits Cyril to help with a robbery scheme. Will Cyril ever find the love, affection, and stability that he so longs for?

Is it any good?

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have made their career with series of quietly observant, subtly profound movies. The Kid with a Bike may be their most universal movie, packed with primal emotions, small beauties, and terrors so simple that they can almost pass by unnoticed. The first meeting of Cyril and Samantha, for example, happens with an embrace during a moment of chaos, and it may not resonate until much later.

If the movie has a drawback, it's that the low-key, realistic filmmaking style, with documentary-style hand-held cameras, doesn't seem to mesh with the adult characters; their behavior is more symbolic than realistic. Cyril's father, in flatly abandoning his son, cannot possibly generate any sympathy with any audience. And Samantha may baffle some viewers with her immediate, unquestioned acceptance of the huge responsibility of taking care of Cyril. However, the powerful emotions and themes are all there to be discovered at the viewers' own pace.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's fighting and violence. How realistic is it? Is it thrilling, or does it make you feel squeamish? How does it contribute to this story?

  • How does watching a movie with subtitles change your experience of a movie? Are you always aware that you're reading, or do you get swept away by the story? Are you eager or reluctant to watch subtitled movies?

  • This movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Why do you think it got this kind of attention? What sets it apart from other movies you've seen?

  • Why would Cyril so quickly and easily fall in with the older teen? Could this older character be considered a bully?

Movie details

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