Having chronicled his nation’s obsession with motor-racing superheroes in 1975’s “Le cheval de fer,” French director Pierre-William Glenn tells an origins story of sorts in “Group Portrait With Kids and Motorcycles,” a docu glimpse at the preteen students of a bike-racing school. Though longtime d.p. Glenn knows how to make a chopper look attractive, his film stops short of pure moto-porn for a shallow focus that wanders to Hollywood movies, Native tribal ritual, and, insufficiently, the physical endangerment of kiddie speed-freaks. As a little of this goes a long way, few outside Gaul will rev their engines.
Particularly after a scene of a 12-year-old wiping out on the track and weeping uncontrollably, non-fans will be hard-pressed to believe the motor “Academy” isn’t a monumentally stupid thing for parents to let their children be involved in. Still, to Glenn, bikers are gods. One adult racer proudly counts 77 fractures in his pro career, while the late Michel Rougerie is hailed as a hero for dying on the track. Tech credits are fine, though there’s too much talking and too little racing. The pic, for whatever reason, is dedicated to Clint Eastwood.