The movies of the Belgian filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are at once studies in propulsive forward motion and moral tales that plumb the depths of their troubled characters with jittery concern. In works like La promesse, Rosetta, and The Son, the brothers’ relentless camera tightly tracks the protagonists to their darkest moments, and then seems to drag them kicking and screaming back to the surface. This extraordinary, action-driven style is also used to great effect in the Dardennes’ most recent release, The Kid with a Bike. Early in the film, Cyril, a restless, unhappy eleven-year-old, runs away from the group home where he lives to try to find his father. As he tries to evade the counselors from the home who have come to take him back, he literally crashes into a woman, Samantha (Cécile de France), who will ultimately change his life. Watch the poignant yet unsentimental sequence.
Now check out a clip from a wide-ranging new interview about The Kid with a Bike with the filmmakers, conducted by Kent Jones, which is available in its entirety on the new Criterion special editions. In this passage, Luc goes into the real-life origins of the story, why they decided to refashion it as a tale of redemption, and how the character of Samantha came to be.