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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Kid With a Bike

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

The Dardenne brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre are from Belgium and they are wonderful storytellers. They know how to create a prolonged moment in time, capture a very human situation of strained or scarred relationships. From this they lead the characters from alienation to amazing generosity, especially when a young person is involved.
 
In “The Son” (“Le fils”; 2002) a carpentry teacher takes on a new student midterm, a teenaged boy who is about 16. During class the teacher realizes that he recognizes the boy. He becomes angry and tells the principal he wants the boy out of his class. But then he starts to follow him and we realize that this boy, fresh from an institution for youth offenders, killed the teacher’s very young son a few years before. His ex-wife, now remarried and pregnant, can comprehend choices the teacher now makes. “The Son” is one of the starkest, most moving and Christian films I have ever seen and there is no specific religion in it.
 
“The Kid with a Bike” (“Le gamin au vélo”) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2011.  It tells the story of Cyril (Thomas Doret; for the complete cast please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827512) who has just been released from a youth farm. His father refuses to care for him and Cyril goes looking for his bicycle hoping that even though his father does not want him that this man has not sold off his precious bike. Alas, he has done the unthinkable.
 
The abandoned boy exhibits anger, frustration, even violence. He has lost all security until he randomly meets a hairdresser, Samantha. Inexplicably (as the Dardenne’s are wont to do) she agrees to become his foster parent on weekends.
 
While some critics think these filmmakers need to try something new, I think they have the ability to into a reality that has marked, or marred, every generation since the Industrial Revolution and perhaps before: disposable kids. Parents fail to care for their children and they fall into the prevailing culture or criminal behavior.  But if the parents fail - the kindness of a stranger prevails.
 
The Dardenne brothers know how to tell a story about hope and humanity with gritty simplicity. Now if they could add just a touch of humor.


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