The Dardenne brothers’ excellent The Kid With A Bike is, of course, the film in question – a heart-wrenching tale of a 12-year-old boy who turns to a stranger for comfort when his father abandons him. Underpinned by the same stark melancholia that defines much of the brothers’ work, it’s a tender, beautifully photographed piece of work that’s both uplifting, deeply moving and a darn sight more appealing than seeing a lot of kids jumping around to the worst soundtrack imaginable.
Meanwhile, Bel Ami further cements Robert Pattinson’s attempt to shun his teen-friendly image as he dutifully shags his way through 100 minutes of bland melodrama in this showy adaptation of the 19th century novel of the same name. Lavish as it may be, as a whole it’s a fairly uneven sex-filled affair, held together by a lead performance in which Pattinson never really convinces. Nevertheless, as a playboy who womanises his way up the social ladder, he’s infinitely more charismatic than the emotional vacuum that’s Edward Cullen. Then again, that’s hardly a challenge.
Good as the Dardennes’ effort is, the week’s surprise highlight comes in the form of Wild Bill, Dexter Fletcher’s assured directorial debut, which defies all expectations implied by its looming council estates and low-level drug dealers, with a charming and surprisingly funny tale of a volatile man who seeks reconciliation with his young boys following an eight-year jail term. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for jumping to conclusions based on the content alone but Fletcher’s film quickly shirks any notions of familiarity with a welcome subversion of our gritty genre expectations. Despite the casting of Charlie Creed-Miles as the lead – a role in which, incidentally, he genuinely shines - Fletcher admirably refrains from the usual temptations of genre typecasting, creating a flawed, but entirely genuine character, to which audiences will no doubt easily warm. What unfolds is an unexpectedly poignant and regularly amusing tale of redemption set to a familiar backdrop often exposed to a less than favourable depiction by a tired British subgenre. Kidulthood it certainly isn’t, and it’s all the better for it.