A contrived riff on how a humble bicycle becomes a driving force in the lives of three sets of characters, “The Bicycle” is a well-intentioned but wobbly follow-up to the helmer’s well-received “The Dutchman’s Island.” A story that looks ripe for spry, witty treatment never realizes its potential, with the characters’ less-than-epic quest for better cycling conditions in Spanish cities falling mostly as flat as it sounds. Pic might make it as far as the odd fest, but will find it hard going up offshore hills.
In the first of the three skillfully interwoven stories, 12-year-old Ramon, who runs errands for steroid dealer Antonio (Carlos Bardem), trades in his bike with Mario (vet Sancho Gracia). Same bike ends up with struggling courier Julia (Barbara Lennie), who in turn inspires elderly Aurora (Pilar Bardem) to take up cycling again and rediscover her independence. Though agile enough to effectively round out its three yarns and large cast, plotting is mostly predictable and the conflicts humdrum. Relationship between Julia and fellow bike-freak Santi (Javier Pereira), fails to get off the dramatic starting-line, and things wind up to an unconvincing, supposedly inspirational set-piece finale.