A story about a boy, a father, and a stolen bike, filmed in a cinematically realistic style. Yes, the Dardennes clearly evoke DeSica's classic Bicycle Thieves. But in this film we focus on the boy. Cyril has been abandoned by his irresponsible father, a fact that he doesn't seem to understand or accept. He is taken in by a kind and responsible foster mother, but he desperately seeks a male role model. This gets him into trouble. Beautifully filmed with a handheld camera that keeps its characters close, this simple story is honest, direct, and believable. It's hard to pull off a film with this subject matter that can't be reduced to adjectives such as "heartwarming" or "bleak" -- depending on the direction the filmmakers choose to take it. But the Dardennes avoid such simple reductivism. Instead, I think the best adjective to describe The Kid with a Bike (and this applies to the entire Dardenne canon, which continually revolves around the same themes and subjects) is empathetic. The story is slight, the style is unshowy, but they squeeze a lot of the world in this film's 87 minutes of screen time.