De Battre mon Coeur s'est Arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) Reviews
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.
[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]
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.
Thomas Seyr is dark, violent, and prone to outbursts. He is not a large man, but a punky post-adolescent who can hold his own in a brawl. The film is a story about him.
The movie had several themes, but what I loved most was Seyr's commitment to his passion. He fought the same doubts I fight now. He works as a real estate broker in which he and two other men make sure vagrants don't take up residence in buildings that have been sold or are still on the market. They release rats and shatter windows and wake up the homeless dwellers in the middle of the night. It is a jerky profession and not at all honorable. Thomas knows this.
But Thomas also knows how to play the piano. He is very good at it too, but far from perfect. It is his dream to be a professional concert pianist, but his job (or reality) interferes with this dream (or naivete). Thomas is also shackled by his father, a shaggy, washed-up loser who shares his son's profession, but fails in the "enforcement" aspect of it. Thomas frequently defends his dad and enforces stubborn tenants to spit up the dough. But this is no ideal father-son relationship.
Unfortunately, his father thinks Thomas' love for the piano is a worthless endeavor and he uses the word "faggoty" to describe Mr. Fox, the concert pianist who once taught Thomas' mother (now deceased), and who now offers a similar opportunity to Thomas himself. His father's feminization of the piano reveals the recurring prejudice and uneasy relationship pragmatic men have towards art. Simply, men are not real men if they pursue artistic paths. Thomas, threatened by this prejudice, realizes his manhood may be at stake. He does not really seek out his father's pride because his father is clearly a failed man. But Thomas does desire his father's affirmation of this manhood.
This takes me to an angle. However you look at it, only a father can truly confirm his son's masculinity and standing as a man. Other men may search elsewhere for affirmation, but most men seek the words of the father. A father's words are final, both biblically and literally speaking. His words refute all others'.
Thomas knows this: at one point, he even tells his father about a sexual experience he has with a Russian Mafioso's girlfriend. It is an attempt to assert his sexual potency, his manly potency. This is not normal conversation between father and son, and it shows just how desperate Thomas is to reconcile his passion for the piano with his own masculinity as defined by his father.
Against the circumstances, Thomas takes the plunge. He follows his passion fiercely and intensely. But this is no fairy tale. His newfound commitment to the piano does not relinquish the tensions of everyday life biting at his heels. His dad still shames him and clings to him like a parasite. His co-workers ridicule and nettle him back to real estate reality. Even love complicates his devotion to the piano, but perhaps fuels his intensity as well.
And this is why I loved the movie. It is intense and fearless and quiet and seething with energy. For example, there is one scene where a piano professor mocks Seyr's notion of being a concert pianist without any formal training. Rather than arguing or pleading his case, Thomas resigns a "fuck you" and walks away. In my viewing, I interpreted this as Thomas' hesitation to follow through or as his stubbornness in dealing with other people, but then I watched an interview of the director Jacques Audiard.
Audiard said that Thomas' heated dismissal of the piano professor stems from Thomas' fear of thinking. He says that if Thomas were to even consider the ridiculousness and naivete of his intentions (which the professor is trying to show him), then his passion would suffocate under the pressure. He cannot pause or think because his thinking will produce enough doubt to prevent his passion from ever taking flight. In a single "fuck you," Thomas reveals an incredible depth to his character.
Now it makes sense to me why he must have noise in his life, why he seeks women so frequently, and why he drowns out all contemplation with his headphones pulsing trance-like electro beats along the Parisian streets he walks alone. Thomas is a restless migrant, not unlike the poor souls he kicks out of vacant buildings. Audiard even mentions that Thomas has no heart, which is debatable, but dark nonetheless. If he even pauses to consider the silent virtue of piano -- how it is his true home -- then he will grow homesick and realize how far away he is from the dream he once dreamed.
Instead, he trudges on, nestling his fear of the 'dream unrealized' by taking small doses at a time. He does not need to think. There is a rhythm that thinks for him when he plays the piano. Neither is it about hitting the right keys. Rather, and here is what Ebert commonly says on film, it is about how they are being hit. In the piano, Thomas finds his masculinity. He comes to realize the standing of a man saddles two worlds -- that of passionate aggression and that of powerful grace. It is in the balance of these two worlds where the male artist knows manhood thrives.
Viewed this as a Netflix stream for the first time (on my laptop).
Art house existential drama about second chances, I think.
I did, however, enjoy the missing frames and jump cuts alluding to the title...
Audiard est un rÃÃ, (C)alisateur exceptionnel , j'ai trouvÃÃ, (C) Duris gÃÃ, (C)nial dans ce rÃÃ,Â´le .
Mon 1er coup de foudre avec Audiard !!!