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by Chantel Elassaad
October 10th, 2011

Do you ever think about having a kid? But then get scared that one day you’ll wake up and be like “Having this kid was the worst decision ever. I just can’t take it anymore. How can I get rid of this problem?” Well, I think about that ALL the time, because I’m pushing 30 (gross!) and according to this New York Magazine article, with each passing day my baby making parts are actually rotting and turning into useless garbage. The article also notes that having a test tube space baby costs a bazillion dollars and adopting a kid also costs a bazillion dollars, and that society sees older child bearing women as extra gross human beings.

So what happens when you just can’t take it anymore, and abandoning your child is your only saving grace? This is the case of 11 year old Cyril, protagonist of The Kid with a Bike, directed by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, which made its NY Premiere this week at the New York Film Festival.

Being “temporarily” placed in a children home, Cyril can’t believe that his father would just leave him there, so he restlessly pursues him. Despite his father’s phone number being changed and the family home being vacated, he is in denial of his abandonment.

After a chance meeting with the lovely Samantha, she buys his bike back from the people Cyril’s father has sold it to, and a much needed caring relationship between the two begins. Cyril begins to stay with Samantha on the weekends as a foster child, but Cyril is restless and damaged. Some of Samantha’s attempts to care for him fall flat and Cyril’s behavior towards her and her boyfriend are sometimes hard to watch.

Eventually they track down Cyril’s father, who basically tells his son that he is starting his life over and can no longer take care of him. He asks Cyril not to ever contact him again. Obviously, this is a really shitty thing to do, (and yes, I know this is exactly what I sometimes think about doing) and Cyril continues to act out. While staying with Samantha one weekend he meets a super creeper – this guy.

Bad hair, bad clothes, bad news. The creeper is kind to Cyril, earning his trust and easily influences Cyril to do some bad shit, including preparing him for a robbery, in which Cyril is to hit the victim over the head with a baseball bat and steal his money. Samantha is on to the fact that Cyril is spending time with this creeper, and does everything in her power to get him avoid the creeper, but her attempts fail. SPOILER ALERT: Her attempt to keep him in her house include a bad ass fight where Cyril stabs Samantha with scissors!

Cyril carries out the planned crime – and messes up the victim pretty badly (we’re talking baseball bat to the face, people). He also injures the man’s son, who happened to be at the scene.

After Cyril scores the loot, the creeper doesn’t want it anymore. He thinks that the father and son victims have been injured more severely than planned and doesn’t want to be implicated in the crime. Cyril takes the money and brings it to his Dad, who at this point, is really annoyed, and is like “for real, I really don’t want to see you ever, and I also don’t want to be implicated in this crime.” Cyril retreats to Samantha, finally realizing that she is the only person who has not given up on him, and that her caring for him is sincere.  He asks to stay with her full time, and she takes him to the police. Cyril, Samantha and the victims of the attack settle the damages. The stolen money is returned to the victims and Samantha agrees to pay for the medical costs. Cyril sincerely apologies to one of the victims, (the father) however the second victim the (man’s son), is not present as he will not accept Cyril’s apology.

His new life living with Samantha full time seems to be going well.

At another chance encounter, Cyril runs into his robbery victims. The son is very upset, and attacks Cyril- pushing him off his bike, chasing him high up a tree and throwing rocks at him. SPOILER ALERT! Cyril falls out of the tree – and lays completely still for an uncomfortable amount time. The son tells his father what happened. And the father is like “if he’s dead, then we’ll just say that he attacked us, and accidently fell.” And the father even goes as far to throw the rock that made Cyril fall out of the tree deeper into the woods. Who are these people? They are the most evil, terrible people EVER! Sure, I’d be pissed if someone hit me in the face with a baseball bat but to mess up a crime scene and cover up a child murder?! Oye.

But it’s all good – Cyril just get’s up like it ain’t no thang, wipes that dirt off his shoulder and rides his bike away. The end.

The performances are fantastic – especially newcomer Thomas Duret as Cyril – so much energy! So much damage! Cyril is only a kid, but he’s hard, and being hard is a really good quality to have as a person. But his situation is also pretty sad. So I guess the idea of abandoning my future child is out of the question. Oye again.  The Kid With A Bike was definitely worth the trek to The Lincoln Center.

The Kid with a Bike will be released in theaters through Sundance Selects in 2012, so keep an eye out!

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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