This Belgian film was one of the “darlings” of the Chicago Film Festival (October, 2011) and absolutely warrants its plaudits. Glittering copiously with the gems of a fabulously fine flick: fascinating and original scenario, masterfully unique individuals, pristine, gut-wrenching acting, elements of surprise that clutch your attention in an unrelenting, tenacious grip; never trust the obvious.
“Cyril” is an 11-year old, ward of the state who like all children believes in the ultimate trustworthiness of his father; his father would never sell his bike, his sole possession. The “bike” careens in and out of Cyril’s proprietary control; the bicycle is an ever present metaphor for his absentee parent.
A guardian angel enters Cyril’s life in the guise of a hairdresser, “Samantha” (beautiful performance by Cecile de France) and their conflicting relationship gifts pungency, potency and stunning power to this superb movie.
The soul of the film belongs to Thomas Doret as “Cyril”; he is shrewd, cunning, a convict in training; he fights for his autonomy; his will, a stronghold against a lonely, abandoned childhood; he tests the guardianship of Samantha, who possesses a streak of mettle equal to his; their debates redolent with strangled, smothered emotion.
In less than ninety minutes brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have blessed audiences with a refined classic; resonating with characters, who will deservedly, occupy permanent residency in your movie memory bank.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!