My wife and I went to bed last night thinking of the amazing DVD we had just seen, a 2011 French-language movie, The Kid with a Bike.
Its appeal is not easy to explain since its themes of seeking a father, home, and love are universal; yet the stunning impact of an 11-year-old boy riding his bike feverishly in search of meaning, away from his foster home in search of a dad who doesn't want him, is unforgettable and original. Moving without being sentimental.
The young actor is remarkable in conveying with fierce determination the human need for connection.
At times, as we watch him riding along, a strain of Beethoven is heard, just a few bars, as if to highlight the general absence of music and the quiet tone of this film. The boy, rejected, falls literally into the arms of a good woman, a hairdresser, who has the patience to deal with his anger and frustration. He later falls from a tree and, though thought dead, is alive.
The filmmakers, two brothers named Dardenne, often put religious themes--here resurrection, compassion, redemption--into secular terms: a wise thing to do. Their film is memorable in doing what filmmakers can uniquely do: suggest the presence of hope in an apparently bleak world.