The Beat That My Heart Skipped Movie Review

James Toback's Fingers is an odd film, but it's an even odder film to become fascinated with for nearly 30 years. French director Jacques Audiard (whose Read My Lips was an undersung gem) has remade Fingers, updated it for the zeros, and given it a Parisian bent... and the end result is just as compelling as Toback's original.

The story tracks closely with the original: Thomas Seyr (Romain Duris) is a wayward twentysomething who, with partner Fabrice (Jonathan Zaccaï) is trying to make a name for himself by completing shady real estate deals half done with cash and half done with muscle. Thomas is the muscle. Meanwhile, his life is a shambles -- his ailing father (Niels Arestrup) can't get the Russian mafia to pay him the money he's owed, but he's marrying a "glorified prostitute" anyway. Fabrice, meanwhile, is cheating in his lovely wife (an unforgettable Aure Atika), and eventually Thomas fills in for him.

But the major undercurrent is that Thomas would really love to be a concert pianist and leave the thug life behind for good. But Thomas has anger management issues that are at odds with the inner calm that music often requires. Which way will life take him?

The story of Thomas Seyr is a story of missed opportunities and poor decisions, and Duris (an actor with a prodigious amount of work overseas but largely unknown here) does wonders with his role. There's not a scene that doesn't make you feel sorry for Seyr. As a viewer, you want to reach in a whisper to him about how he might make his life a little better than before. The Beat That My Heart Skipped (the title comes from a line in a Jacques Dutranc song) reflects all that is good about modern French cinema -- despite its origins in a decidedly American film.

Beat turns into a sparking generator, with cryptic gaps in the story that -- after a few moments -- you finally realize you didn't need at all. The end result is that Audiard's film is imbued with an energy that's hard to ignore and that compels you to watch. It's also without a trace of pomposity that many might associate with arthouse films. Don't be scared of the subtitles.

As a director, Audiard has an erratic record, with long gaps between movies. If that's what it takes to keep cranking out quality movies, he gets my wholehearted blessing.

Aka De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté.

Skip to my loo.


Comments

The Beat That My Heart Skipped Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 2005

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