The Dardennes brothers are the European arthouse sensations who have wowed critics internationally since the release of their 1996 film La Promesse. Their following film, Rosetta, won the Palme D'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. They've won an award at every Cannes Film Festival that they've played at since and are the most recent of a band of only six directors who have won the Palme D'Or twice (the second time for their 2005 film L'Enfant). Their films are notorious for their portrayal for the grim and difficult social situation in which their characters are based, what in England might be called gritty, kitchen sink drama. There's a touch more élan to the films of the brothers, and this is demonstrated by their latest release. The Kid with a Bike opens, winner of the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival, starts a limited release in UK cinemas today.
Truthfully, we here at Because Magazine's Culture section approach the films of the Dardennes brothers ruefully, and we make sure we have something fun and diverting to go to afterwards. No such reservations were necessary for this film. A simple story of boy slowly being disowned by his father, and the relationship that the boy develops with a local hairdresser, this film is actually a lot more audience friendly than it might sound, or its pre-history dictates. At its core (and denouement) is a sweet, heart-rending softness that it is impossible to not fall for. The Dardennes brothers have a quality of working with non-professional child actors to great effect (see: Rosetta), but this the first film by the duo to take a more traditional approach to film storytelling, not as overly reliant on natural lighting and handheld cameras as some of their previous work, and in Cécile de France demonstrate the first time they've worked with a bona fide international star actress. She, like the rest of the film, is wonderful and it should be top of your list to do this bright, sunny weekend.
The Kid with a Bike is on limited release from today.