See This: The Beat That My Heart Skipped

Romain Duris in The Beat That My Heart Skipped



Now here is a thing – a film that starts out as a sort of French Mean Streets but ends up in quite different territory. Romain Duris is the young Robert De Niro in question, a thug, we learn early on, with a heart of pure coal and with a surprising gift. He plays the piano like a maestro. Or used to. The film’s narrative tension springs from this internal split – is he going to carry on throwing squatters out onto the streets and smashing up their apartments so the developers can move in? Or is he going to return to the relaxed, elegant world of the piano? The masculine world of the mob or the feminine world of the academy? Money or Art? It’s a remake of James Toback’s ignored 1978 film Fingers, and that time round Harvey Keitel took the lead. So why not just go and get the older film out from Blockbuster (like they’d have it)? Because Duris is a mesmerising presence, because his opposite number – a Chinese pianist who speaks no French (played by the French/Vietnamese actress Linh-Dam Phan) – is too. And because, quite simply, director Jacques Audiard channels the tension so expertly that every scene, exchange and gesture is electrifying.

© Steve Morrissey 2007


The Beat That My Heart Skipped – at Amazon




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The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) Crime, Drama, Music | 108min | 4 November 2005 (UK) 7.3
Director: Jacques AudiardWriter: Jacques Audiard, Tonino BenacquistaStars: Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle DevosSummary: Twenty-eight-year-old Tom leads a life that might be termed as criminal. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of his father, who made his money from dirty, and sometimes brutal, real estate deals. Tom is a pretty hard-boiled guy but also strangely considerate as far as his father is concerned. Somehow he appears to have arrived at a critical juncture in his life when a chance encounter prompts him to take up the piano and become a concert pianist, like his mother. He senses that this might be his final opportunity to take back his life. His piano teacher is a Chinese piano virtuoso who has recently come to live in France. She doesn't speak a lick of French so music becomes the only language they have in common. Before long, Jacques' bid to be a better person means that he begins to yearn for true love. But, when he finally has the chance of winning his best friend's wife, his passion only succeeds in scaring her. And then, one day, his dubious past comes to light... Written by Sujit R. Varma


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