BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED, THE
Tom (Romain Duris) works as a real estate debt collector for his father Robert (Niels Arestrup). The work involves violence and he hates the life, wishing he could be more like his late mother, who was a concert pianist. When offered a piano audition, he starts to practise again, and is coached by is a beautiful Chinese teacher Miao Lin (Linh Dan Pham), who doesn't speak a word of French. To make life even more complicated, he is having an affair with his best friend's wife. Just when Tom's life seems to be turning around, Robert asks him for one last sordid favour, that involves the Russian Mafia.
Review by Louise Keller:
Relying on the enigmatic and sultry charisma of Romain Duris, The Beat My Heart Skipped is a mesmerising portrait of a man torn by two very different sides of his personality. French film maker Jacques Audiard has reworked the theme from James Toback's 1978 drama, Fingers, for his follow up film to Read My Lips. Duris has the intensity of Daniel Day Lewis, the sexual charisma of Vincent Cassell and the likeability of Dominic West. He broods, frowns and grabs our attention as he tries to manage his life.
Duris plays Tom, who like his father Robert (Niels Arestrup), works in real estate. But there's nothing wholesome about the profession, as we discover in the opening scenes: this is a dark, shady world comprising sordid deals. Deep shadows and jerky, hand held camerawork accentuates this; Tom seems to be swallowed up in the mire. He is a standover man who uses violence to make business run smoothly. Rats bundled in sacks are planted in buildings and unwanted tenants or squatters forced out with the help of baseball bats. And Tom has a push-me pull-me relationship with his father, who makes demands on him to finish off deals that have gone wrong. His colleague Fabrice (Jonathan Zaccaï) makes demands too: he wants Tom to lie for him and be his ally as he lies to and cheats on his wife Aline (Aure Atika).
But there's another side to Tom, an artistic, sensitive side who longs to be like his late mother, a former concert pianist. We hear her voice on tape as she practices the piano, how her heart's beating too loudly. A chance encounter with her former manager prompts him to dream of playing the piano professionally. The beauty of classic piano music is a sharp contrast to the ugliness of his violent life, and in order to prepare for his upcoming audition, he starts lessons with a petite Chinese virtuoso Miao Lin (Linh Dan Pham). These are incongruous scenes - she speaks only Chinese, Vietnamese and a few words of English. Their relationship is an unusual one, based on their connection through music.
The mood stays with us in this intriguing noir thriller. Audiard involves us intimately with tight close ups and camera angles that accentuate the dual nature of Tom's personality. Shadows often engulf the top half of his face, accentuating the mouth and jaw. With its themes about father/son relationships and revenge, like Tom, we are jerked from the dark abyss of reality into the world of hopes and dreams to which he aspires. The film may not have the bite of Read My Lips, but all the performances ring true and there's a sharpness and honesty to all the characters. Look out for Emmanuelle Devos in a small role.
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BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED, THE (M15+)
De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
CAST: Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos, Niels Arestrup, Jonathan Zaccaï, Linh Dan Pham, Mélanie Laurent
PRODUCER: Pascal Caucheteux
DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard
SCRIPT: Jacques Audiard, Tonino Benacquista
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stéphane Fontaine
MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat
PRODUCTION DESIGN: François Emmanuelli
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 30, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
VIDEO RELEASE: February 8, 2006