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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Kid With a Bike

Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

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 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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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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