Cast: Thomas Doret, Cecile de France
SUMMARY: Eleven-year-old Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret) lives in a group home, having been temporarily placed there by his father, Guy (his mother is not mentioned). When his father does not come to visit him or call, Cyril becomes concerned, particularly after his attempts to call his father’s apartment fail. The home’s director informs Cyril that his father must have moved, but Cyril insists that if this were true, his father would have dropped off his bike. One day instead of going to school, he takes several buses back to his father’s apartment, but is caught by the manager before he can make it in. The man chases Cyril into the medical office on the ground floor, where Cyril grabs onto a female patient to avoid being removed from the building. The home director is called to get Cyril, but the building manager agrees to show Cyril the apartment before he leaves. As promised, the apartment is empty, and Cyril’s bike is not there, either. A few days later, the woman from the medical office, Samantha (Cecile de France) shows up at the home. After hearing about Cyril’s situation and his bike, she went looking for it, and bought it back from its new owner. That man claimed that Cyril’s father sold it to him, but Cyril decides that it must have been stolen, as his father would never do this. As the woman is leaving the home, Cyril impulsively asks if he could stay with her on the weekend, and she agrees. Samantha is a hairdresser, and while she works, Cyril rides his bike around town. One day he leaves it outside for only a few moments, but when he comes back he finds another young boy riding away on it. Cyril chases the boy into a clearing in the woods, where he beats up the kid in front of his older friends, then takes his bike back to Samantha’s. He continues to look for his father, but fails until Samantha makes phone calls and locates the man. She arranges a meeting, but when Guy does not show up, Samantha and Cyril go to his place of work. After a brief visit, Guy sends Cyril away, promising to call him the next week. However, Guy tells Samantha that he cannot take care of Cyril, and doesn’t want to see him again — which he wants Samantha to tell Cyril. When Samantha refuses, Guy tells Cyril not to look for him again.
After this, Cyril’s short-lived happiness seems to end. When the same kid steals his bike again, Cyril chases him back to the same clearing, where he is applauded by the older boys. This “gang” is led by Wes, who is referred to in the neighborhood as a drug dealer. Wes gives Cyril the nickname “Pitbull”, due to his small size but tenacious nature. When Cyril’s bike has a flat tire, Wes volunteers to take him to get it fixed, then invites him to come over and play video games. When Samantha finds out that he has been with Wes, she is furious, and forbids Cyril from seeing him again. Cyril promises, but immediately breaks it and begins spending most of his time (at least when he is at Samantha’s house) with Wes. Eventually, Wes asks Cyril to help him commit a robbery. They plan to hit a newspaper salesman, whom Wes used to work for. The plan calls for Cyril to attack the man with a bat, then steal the money before getting in the getaway car, driven by Wes. On the night of the robbery, Samantha tries to forbid Cyril from leaving the house, knowing that he will go to Wes. After a struggle, Cyril stabs Samantha in the arm with hair scissors, then takes off. The robbery goes according to plan until the man’s son appears. Cyril knocks him unconscious as well, but when Wes realizes that Cyril’s face was seen by both men, he gets extremely angry. He shoves all the money at Cyril, then forces him out of the car before speeding away. Cyril goes to the restaurant where his father works, and gives him the money, confessing that he stole it, but that he wants his father to have it to help pay the bills. Instead, his father rougly shoves him over the alley wall and throws the money after him, telling him not to come back. Cyril finally returns to Samantha’s house, and she takes him to the police station. In mediation, Samantha agrees to pay the vendor’s medical bills, since the money was recovered. Cyril apologizes to the father, but the son refuses to even attend the meeting. Cyril seems to have gotten over his rebellious streak, and starts to help Samantha more and more around the house: they also start talking about making the living situation permanent. While riding his bike one day, Cyril comes across the newspaper vendor and his son. When the son sees Cyril, he chases him into the same clearing where Cyril once met with Wes. Cyril climbs a tree to get away, so the older boystarts throwing rocks. One of them hits Cyril in the head, knocking him unconscious and causing him to fall out of the tree. In a panic, the boy gets his father, who quickly comes up with a cover story in case Cyril is dead. As they stand over him, Cyril suddenly stirs, then gets up. The father wants Cyril to wait for an ambulance, but Cyril refuses, and simply walks away.
MY TAKE: There are a lot of very interesting characters in this movie, particularly the ones surrounding Cyril. Samantha, who has only met Cyril on two brief occasions, agrees to take him into her home on the weekends. Personally, I don’t think I would agree to do this so quickly, because I would think that most kids living in a group home would have some abandonment issues, among other problems. She very quickly grows very attached to Cyril, and takes on the mother role very easily. Cyril’s father, Guy, is a complete tool. There’s not a lot of depth there. Wes is interesting, though, because he seems like the typical small-time criminal who knows how to draw in needy children (like a less sinister child predator). He plays Cyril like a fiddle until he abandons him following the robbery. However, Wes admits to having lived in the group home himself, and is currently living with his grandparents. His grandmother is dealing with some kind of illness, and Wes takes very good care of her. It’s a very odd contrast to his relationship with Cyril. Finally, there’s the newspaper vendor, the robbery victim. This guy seems to be pretty upstanding, not pressing charges against Cyril and accepting his apology. However, when his own son knocks Cyril out of the tree with a rock, the man comes up with a cover story to protect himself and his son. I guess I thought that because the man forced Cyril to face the consequences of his attack, he would treat his son the same way, but apparently he’s a lot more hypocritical than I expected. Thankfully, Cyril is not dead, and also seems to have learned his lesson, because he doesn’t try to retaliate in any way. He definitely seems to have changed, and is a far less angry child.