A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: March 16, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2013
- Cast: Cecile De France, Jeremie Renier, Thomas Doret
- Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
- Studios: Criterion Collection, Sundance Selects
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, violence, brief language and smoking