"Kid with a Bike"

"Kid with a Bike"

The Kid with a Bike
3.5 stars
Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Starring Thomas Doret, Cecile de France and Jeremie Renier
Not Rated

The anguish of a lonely childhood is on full display in "The Kid with a Bike," the lovingly understated new film from masters of naturalistic cinema Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

Cyril (Thomas Doret) is a 12-year-old boy living in a foster home because his father (Jérémie Renier) wants nothing to do with him. A kindhearted hairdresser named Samantha (Cécile de France) unexpectedly takes an interest, helping Cyril track down his cherished missing bike and taking care of him on weekends.

The filmmakers follow the slow, complicated formation of their surrogate bond, set against Cyril's desperate drive for a fatherly figure. Little happens from a plot standpoint, but the protagonist goes on a stark interior journey that's deeply felt in the film's long takes and the range of emotions they convey in their lifelike rhythms.

The extraordinary performance by Doret, a first-time screen actor, anchors the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix-winning production. It offers a full, affecting picture of the plight of character who is at once an old soul and a young boy, desperately seeking hope and love in a world of mistreatment and neglect.

Playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and IFC Center 

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