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De Battre mon Coeur s'est Arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) Reviews

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Carlos M

Super Reviewer

April 22, 2012
Romain Duris is fantastic here, doing an exceptional work in the composition of his character, with a special care for small details. A compelling, fascinating character study about an unsatisfied man trying to have back his life and follow his dream.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 2, 2009
A very entertaining modern film-noir. Audiard is a very capable director and you can clearly spot his admiration and influence for Truffaut and Goddard. It is Romain Duris who steals the show though in a fantastic performance.

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2009
In De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arreté, the main character, Tom, goes through many ordeals in a desperate attempt to find himself. He works, like his father, in "real estate", which is an euphemism for "breaking into abandoned buildings, brutally forcing the inhabitants out, and then selling them". He is immoral to no end, as are his friends and associates. However, as the film unfolds, it's clear that he did not only inherit his father's interests; the individualism he has suppressed tries to break free by wanting to follow the footsteps of his pianist mother. Tom gets an audition with the man who managed his mother when she was alive, and begins to try and juggle the tough, almost mob-like life he leads as a "broker", and his piano rehearsals.
Tom is such an interesting character. He looks very tough and insufferable and he seems not to give a damn about anyone except his father, but when he shows a sensible side, it's heartbreaking. He cares too profoundly about his father, even though it's because of him that he works at something that he doesn't really like very much. His father sometimes uses him to get rent from stubborn tennants... and although Tom knows he's being manipulated, he can't say no. The father-son dynamics are very well developed and they are one of the many inner currents that suck you into the film. Audiard is very good at directing partnerships in which what is said isn't as important as what is implicit; he's an excellent actor's director.
As Tom begins to delve into piano playing, his sensibility begins to awaken from the somber letharg it had been in. When Tom works he is often in dark, dirty, unhealthy environments, frowning and swearing, whereas when he plays the piano, atlhough it enrages him not to play perfectly, he knows he has to unlink himself from that inhuman world. The piano becomes his escape, and his rediscovered love for art begin to form in him a desire to be a better person. Thanks to that he falls in love. And he begins to find his work revolting.
The drama kicks in with subtlety. The turning point is difficult to grasp; the film flows so harmoniously. But soon the problem will be fully exposed: Tom can't marry his job and his love for music. He can't quit either. Something very big has to happen. He detests his job but he's too intimately bound to it... he can't let his father down.
I thought this conflict was very original and very involving. I could feel very closely Tom's desperation and the different attitudes he takes in front of the difficulty of being his own person. A 28 year old man who is, all of a sudden, trapped, just while he is on the brink of making the most important change of his life.
Audiard's narrative is one of the highlights. He relies very much on visual language, and he does "speak" it with immense clarity. His dialog almost never makes reference to the great themes of the film, but they are always clear. I think what adds to DBMSE's charisma is that illusion of uncertainty. Which was the exact case of Sur Mes Levres, another great film.
Romain Duris is the force behind it all, though. He delivers a really fine, torrid performance... captivating when he wants to get his way, and tortured in front of his challenges. Most importantly, he plays Tom with contained passion and charming wickedness, which, in my opinion, defines him during the first hlafof the film. Later on, after the character discovers the changing power of art, he becomes eager, wide-eyed, excited but terrified. Duris evidences these changes so naturally it even seems careless.
Behind the violent premise -Tom's "business"- is a complex film. It's accessible but it requires attention and openness. This isn't just the story of a gangster "getting soft", it's about a person struggling desperately to be independent. Regardless of where that independence will lead him. Audiard seems to be a fan of people going to their limits and then exceeding them.

Super Reviewer

October 12, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Beat that My Heart Skipped", Tom(Romain Duris) is a young man who takes after his father(Niels Arestrup) by working shady real estate deals. He also occasionally does favors for the old man when a bit of force is required. While driving past a concert hall, Tom notices his mother's former agent, Mr. Fox(Sandy Whitelaw).(Tom's mother was an accomplished concert pianist and he had aspirations in the same direction...) After inquiring about whether he has kept up his playing over the years, Mr. Fox hands the young man his card and an offer to audition...[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"The Beat that My Heart Skipped" is a remake of the massively overrated "Fingers" starring Harvey Keitel. It is also the very rare remake that is superior because of all remnants of James Toback's psyche having been purged and a better central performance which sheds more light on the lead character's mental state.(Or maybe some movies play better in French...) Tom is an impulsive man(which helps in his affinity for violence), and has had little patience required for the career of a concert pianist in the past. Additionally, he is a charming man but has had trouble maintaining relationships and lives alone.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Note: My interest in seeing a remake depends upon my feelings towards the original work. For example, I do want to see the "All the King's Men" remake because I can hardly remember the original. On the other, I very much liked "Infernal Affairs", so I'm not going to go near "The Departed."[/font]

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2010
Tom is a real-estate hooligan by day, but dreams of being a concert pianist by night. Excellent acting by Roman Duris, who manages to bring together amoral thug, loving son and sensitive artist into one part and make it work, and an absorbing character study though I found the final epilogue a bit of an unnecessary tag-on. Cool title too..

Super Reviewer

December 18, 2007
A great film, not quite as good as "Read My Lips," but still highly reccomended. Romain Duris delivered an intense and emotional performance, and Aure Atika was gorgeous! Also, a small role but the beautiful Melanie Laurent of "Inglorious Basterds" fame is in it and plays a semi-key part. Emmanuelle Devos of "Read My Lips" also has a small role as well. I need to see the original, "Fingers," with Harvey Keitel.
April 9, 2012
Beatifully shot and acted. I have issues with the ending but I enjoyed the film very much all things considered
June 25, 2009
Not something I can relate to, and the lead guy is really ugly.

Art house existential drama about second chances, I think.
June 4, 2007
A beautiful film. And the fact that it's about piano playing is even better because I love piano! Even though I can't play...
May 28, 2007
This is a surprisingly interesting dramatic thriller. I'd recommend it. It seems particularly strong for its genre and combines such diverse elements as pretty brutal but basically small time thuggery with a main character who also has a deep appreciation for music and can also exist in that world. I recommend this movie not just for people who enjoy thrillers; that's not even my preferred genre, but indeed for everyone.
October 16, 2006
A suspenseful thriller. Romain Duris is great and perfect for the role of a guy torn between the influences of his father and his mother.
June 6, 2013
For the second time I watched this movie, before and after film school...Still impressing and enjoyable....There is no happy or sad ending in his movies, life goes on...realistic view....Great casting and performance from Romain Duris, everyone is acting great and Audiard telling the story with very settled pace and use editing and cinematography to help it...The story is about passion, family and loss...The dilemma for the main character between two worlds that he lives in brings struggle that we experienced it somehow, when the world is telling you can't do it and you are waiting for final push...
February 1, 2014
Working my way back through Jaques Audiard's back catalogue.
The damaged man theme of Un Prophete and Rust & Bone is evident here as we follow the story of Tom, a man who is torn between following in his father's footsteps as a corrupt landlord or following his passion for music and becoming a concert pianist like his departed mother.
After a chance encounter with his mother's old agent, Tom is invited to audition and he then has to balance both sides of his life as he sets up a dodgy real estate deal and practices for his audition.
Romain Duris is compelling in the lead role as the conflicted Tom. Very empathetic and believable as his life just throws him curveball after curveball.
Another great film from Audiard who is now a goto director for me.
March 30, 2013
These days it's hard to find unique, gritty thrillers, because it's usually one or the other. You can always depend on the French for something great, and that's exactly the case with "De Battre mon Couer s'est Arrêté". By the end, it leaves you breathless, even if you can't explain exactly what happened. Movies that do that obviously are great ones.
Tom (Romain Duris) is a small-time criminal that dreams of being a concert pianist. His father (Niels Arestrup) is a mid-level gangster and loan shark, and to support himself, Tom has been working as a collection agent. At first, the job seems good, but it quickly becomes unsatisfying. Once he rediscovers his love for the piano, he can't help but feel ready to change his life, and soon takes lessons with the Asian Miao-Lin (Linh Dan Pham), who is just as hard on Tom as his father. Yet, Tom can't seem to get out of his violent life, and we can't tell if it's because he's worried about being killed, or if he realizes he's just too good at it.
I could watch movies like "De Battre mon Couer s'est Arrêté" all day. There's something intriguing to me about the criminal underworld, even more so when the cameras are shaky, the actors appear to have been picked off the street, and violence serves as a part of the plot rather than trying to shock the audience. What's different about this film is that, yes, it has all of these great components, but it's unpredictable and tells a story that no other film has even attempted (well, except the original film it was based off of, "Fingers").
The streets always look grimy, filled with seedy looking people that blend into the atmosphere, and people smoke cigarettes as though it's perfectly normal. You could say "De Battre mon Couer s'est Arrêté" is a modern day film noir, except it has no boundaries.
Romain Duris is the key to the film. One of France's most underrated actors, he characterizes Tom without much sympathy, playing his neuroses' with uttermost realism with a hint of fascination for his character. He's twitchy, nearly hyperactive, and he's a wonder. It's hard to say if I ever truly liked Tom, but it's easy to agree that Duris is fascinating, and that's enough.
"De Battre mon Couer s'est Arrêté" is a great, underrated gangster movie that doesn't serve as a thriller as much as it does a character study.
September 12, 2012
Well acted French film about a guy struggling to balance his career as a real estate thug, his secret lovelife and his dream of becoming a concert pianist.
July 26, 2012
Top film. TOP film. Tourneuse de Pages meets Diva-slash-A Bout de Souffle. Or something. With dialogue halfway between Goodfellas/a kind of French 'Minder'. And then you get this lovely music all the way through - and raw suspense (you can't have an aspiring concert pianist who professionally beats people up at night without total FEAR for the guy's fingers). More of Romain Duris please.
June 13, 2012
Cinematic gold. It just doesn't get any better than this. Plus, if you want to pick up chicks tell them this is your favourite film - getting the French title out of your mouth before she can stick her tongue down yours will be an accomplishment to be proud of. Soundtrack is scorching too. It's all been about Audiard since the early 2000's. If you haven't had the pleasure yet, start here before you go on to A Prophet.
February 10, 2012
Possibly one of the greatest naturalistic performances on celluloid ever by Romain Duris.
October 28, 2011
Romain never takes on a dull role.
September 17, 2011
One can't make it as a pianist without giving up a career as a slum lord.
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