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The Bike Thief (2020) Film Review


Directed by: #MattChambers

Written by: #MattChambers


After a pizza delivery driver’s moped is stolen, he must find or replace it before he loses everything else – even if that means forgoing his moral conscience in the process.

The Bike Thief (2020) is a British drama/thriller, written and directed by Matt Chambers, who has previously worked as a production assistant on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2018) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). This harrowing tale may feel familiar, but this does not take away from the profound impactful viewing the film offers.

Chambers directs a beautiful looking movie, with aesthetically pleasing shots of the bustling London city streets and the cinematography becoming most mesmerising during night time sequences of the unnamed ‘Rider’ (Secareanu) driving about. The gritty realism of poor working class life is communicated wonderfully through a dramatic, suspenseful character-based story focusing on Romanian immigrants living in a claustrophobic, cold flat in a run-down council estate.

The Bike Thief (2020) poster

The film does an excellent job at setting up the Rider’s difficult situation in a humane way as we see his wife, Elena (Marinca) must take their young son to her work as a cleaner, as they cannot afford a babysitter and their older daughter must do her homework in the bathroom, as the baby crying distracts her. Once the moped is stolen, we instantly know how costly this will be for him and his family and we see how the heavy emotional stress affects him when he attacks someone from his daughter’s school, who he wrongfully believes is the culprit. A very effective tense scene comes when the Rider attempts to ask his landlord, Yusif (Aaron Neiuk), and owner of the pizza business what would theoretically happen if his bike went missing, only to be told that he and his family would be forced to move out of their flat. The Rider soon takes drastic risks to make things right.

Although the film does a very good job at grounded us into the setting and tells a genuine, honest small scale story, the plot and visuals do feel familiar. The most recognisable comparison would be to The Bicycle Thieves (1948), with an obvious parallel being the titles and the basic premise, with the unnamed ‘Driver’ perhaps taking inspiration from the critically acclaimed Drive (2011). The film also shares its incredible ethereal soundtrack and tendency to linger on long shots with Drive and the focus on gritty working class life are reminiscent of typically hard-hitting Ken Loach movies. However, this movie takes a different approach with a Romanian family being the protagonists and offers a fresh perspective on the narrative, which has otherwise been explored in other films.

All the performances were strong and felt authentic. Alec has previously been nominated for Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards for his leading role in God’s Own Country (2017). In a similar fashion to his performance in that film, Alec is quiet and thoughtful in his demeanour with occasional angry outburst towards others who have wronged him. Anamaria Marinca as his wife also makes for a sympathetic character who is struggling to make ends meet for her family.

Perfectly paced with powerful direction and captivating performances, The Bike Thief is a thought-provoking exploration of human hardships in the working-class and certainly deserves more attention.


The Bike Thief (2020) trailer:


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