Film Review: Le Gamin au Vélo (Kid on a Bike)

I really enjoyed this simple film set in Wallonia for what it implied about the society in which it is set, modern-day Belgium. The story suggests that while human disfunction is universal, the response a society has to it can be more or less rational and effective. The Belgians have it pretty rational, and everything turns out pretty effective as a result.

No spoilers here, but when Cyril, the “kid” of the title, has familial disfunction, Belgian society has  a compassionate response for it. And while the film shows how physically restrained these people are in their physical displays of affection for each other–they act almost like the icy Scandinavians here–their essential belief in the dignity of their fellows beings–and thus love for each other–is remarkably, impressively strong.

The viewer sees how the social service, health, and justice systems in this little socialist country are set up to support people in a basic, no-frills way that allows citizens to pursue their own individual notions of happiness. There is freedom and uniqueness amid the state support. Perhaps the viewer recalls how these relatively happy people have socialized and rationalized their higher education and employment systems too, and that could lead one to suppose that while every country and culture must-needs differ according to local values, the USA could certainly stand to be a bit more rational and effective in response to human disfunction than it is.

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