For Reel

The Kid with a Bike (2011)
April 20, 2012, 12:52 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne – the Belgian filmmaking duo with two Palme d’Ors to their name – have established an uncompromisingly naturalistic visual aesthetic over their six features since 1996’s La Promesse. Each picture could also be said to involve a significant moral burden, ultimately culminating more often than not with a hopeful, redemptive note. Great as each of their films are, one grows suspicious that their world is so specific that they risk self-parody. The Kid with a Bike, their latest, while utilizing the familiar handheld camera work and telling a story subjectively through a pair of distinct points-of-view, comes as a bit of a departure. The kid of the title – dressed in bright reds and blues – is, relatively speaking, visually flamboyant, and their occasional use of music is startling. While these aesthetic differences are slight, it is the film’s sense of the world – it, as the Dardennes themselves have put it, is reflective of a “fairy tale structure” – that most distinguishes it from their previous, better efforts. The convenience of the plot is not necessarily a hindrance. After all, every one of their narratives involves a fairly contrived set-up. What is frustrating, however, are its compromises in character by way of broad generalizations – it dwells in the cliches of the guardian woman, the wayward son, the absent father. Although there is the occasional moment of surprise – Cécile de France nearly gives up on the boy after a pivotal scene – nowhere is the dynamism of The Son, for instance, in which the characters didn’t correspond with the genre-defined traits that one might expect them to fulfill. As much as one can admire the way that the brothers so adeptly skirt sentimentality – and they quite often dwell in cute, idyllic moments before complimenting them with dread-inspiring sequences – their simplifications of what made them such exciting voices comes as a great disappointment.


1 Comment so far
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Just having a quick scroll through your recent posts and this was all that I’ve seen, ha. I think your concluding sentence is exemplified in the final 10 minutes of the film – it was a frustrating ending. I haven’t seen any of their previous films so am completely unfamiliar to their world and their progression as film makers but I did find the film more rewarding than you.

Comment by Rishaad

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