It's a good rule of thumb to avoid remakes, but this deft re-interpretation of James Toback's 1978 indie touchstone Fingers is one handsome exception. The Beat That My Heart Skipped stars Romain Duris as Tom, a thuggish loner in thrall to a delinquent father but fast becoming his carer. He seems doomed to walk in his dad's footsteps until a figure from his past, the former manager of his concert pianist mother, offers Tom the chance to audition.
After ten years away from the keyboard, Tom becomes obsessed with recapturing the talent he displayed as a teenager. But drifting away from the mean, brutal world he inhabits is not simple. Though he feels the pull of the piano, an instrument that rekindles a bond with his late mother and exposes a gentleness he'd forgotten he had, he cannot easily escape his reality. No sooner does he make a breakthrough with his attractive female piano tutor than he is drawn into his father's violent business feuds.
With single-shot scenes and handheld camerawork, director Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips) offers glimpses of little known worlds - the Parisian underbelly, the classical music setting - but they remain in the periphery, just like the loose, fluid plot. Duris was unconvincing as a callow youth in 2003's L’Auberge Espagnole, but he delivers an un-showy and fittingly mature performance as the film’s heart and soul. There's a lo-fi stylishness befitting both the director's pedigree and the source of his inspiration, but Audiard also asks some provocative and weighty questions about the male psyche.
In French with English subtitles.