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Wednesday, July 17

Le Gamin au vélo/The Kid with a bike

Children make excellent choices for movies as they are eye-catching and touching. Yet, the Belgian directors -Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne- portray the main character, the kid with a bike, in an unsentimental manner. And though the story is affecting and vividly depicted, it is not a tearjerker meant to break your heart. Le Gamin au vélo is about two people -a young woman and a boy- who play it simple and honest in their attempt to find friendship, trust and love.

Cyril (Thomas Doret) is desperately trying to escape the foster home where he lives to find his father and his bike. Running away to the block of apartments where they used to stay, he hopelessly clings to a young woman ( Cecile de France) in an attempt to prevent the school counsellors from taking him back. "You can hold me, but not so tight," the woman says unexpectedly and the boy's suffering makes her find the lost bike and return it to the owner. Taken aback by her gesture, yet strongly believing his bike had been stolen instead of having been sold by his own father, Cyril asks the woman to take him on weekends. Samantha is a local hairdresser who would rather have a troubled kid in her life than a narrow-minded man, so the painful choice is made and she is stuck with Cyril.


The movie is incredible in the way it renders the kid's perseverance in trying to ignore his father's rejection and serenely accept his explanations and lame excuses: “Seeing him stresses me out. I’m starting over”, says the cynical father. Cyril's need for affection is tremendous and so is his helplessness in the adult world. Rejection is unacceptable, love is strenuously denied, shattered dreams are all he is given. The boy is moving in the way he is damaged yet open; getting the bike is his desperate effort to restore the initial state of happiness, whereas his angry riding is his animal cry for help. As for Samantha, we are never revealed her true intentions as to her desire to take care of the wounded boy; her motivation is irrelevant, it is her determination to heal Cyril's soul that counts.

The naturalistic ending of the movie finds you holding your breath for Cyril's life and hoping that the world will only morally punish the boy for his trespasses. The two directors' talent is making the viewer care for their characters, really fall for the red-haired boy and his misfortunes; they do not twist your arm or make you sob your heart out, they just make the story so intense that it instantly gets your empathy. After being hit and passing out, Cyril gets up, wipes off his clothes and, refusing any help from the aggressor, gets back to his business- he is no longer the innocent, gullible boy from the beginning of the movie; he is a mature young man who has learnt about life the hard way. In their hectic pursuit for happiness, broken people have a way of seeking solace in other wounded arms. As it is in life, some movies just grab your heart and never let it go.