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The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)

De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (original title)
Unrated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 16 March 2005 (France)
Will Thomas still lead a life of crime and cruelty, just like his thuggish father, or will he pursue his dream of becoming a pianist?

Director:

Writers:

(scenario), (scenario) | 1 more credit »

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 20 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Fabrice
Gilles Cohen ...
Sami
...
Miao Lin
...
...
Chris
Anton Yakovlev ...
Minskov
...
Minskov's Girlfriend
Agnès Aubé ...
Woman
Etienne Dirand ...
Old Man
Denis Falgoux ...
Metreur
Serge Onteniente ...
Man
Sandy Whitelaw ...
Mr. Fox
Emmanuel Finkiel ...
Conservatory Professor
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Storyline

Twenty-eight-year-old Tom leads a life that might be termed as criminal. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of his father, who made his money from dirty, and sometimes brutal, real estate deals. Tom is a pretty hard-boiled guy but also strangely considerate as far as his father is concerned. Somehow he appears to have arrived at a critical juncture in his life when a chance encounter prompts him to take up the piano and become a concert pianist, like his mother. He senses that this might be his final opportunity to take back his life. His piano teacher is a Chinese piano virtuoso who has recently come to live in France. She doesn't speak a lick of French so music becomes the only language they have in common. Before long, Jacques' bid to be a better person means that he begins to yearn for true love. But, when he finally has the chance of winning his best friend's wife, his passion only succeeds in scaring her. And then, one day, his dubious past comes to light... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

16 March 2005 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Beat That My Heart Skipped  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

€5,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,179,031 (France) (18 March 2005)

Gross:

$1,023,424 (USA) (9 December 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Romain Duris's sister is a pianist, and she is the one who taught him to play piano for this film. See more »

Quotes

Sami: Playing piano is making you flip. Stop it now!
Thomas Seyr: Nothing's making me flip. I'm not flipping. I'm having a ball. I feel fantastic, dont' you see? It's important, I'm serious about it.
Sami: You gonna make dough from pianos?
Thomas Seyr: Not pianos, the piano! It's not about making money, it's about art.
Sami: What's in it for us? You coming to meetings all, 'Hi guys, I've been playing piano.' Shit, I'll take up the banjo.
Thomas Seyr: It's over your head
See more »

Connections

Remake of Fingers (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

2ème Rhapsodie
de Johannes Brahms (as Brahms)
Interprète piano: Caroline Duris
See more »

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User Reviews

Grace From Gracelessness
29 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Beat That My Heart Skipped has the pulse of a major film, a certain energy that pulls you in, makes you interested in what it's doing. Its director, Jacques Audiard, gives one the impression that his is a big-league talent; there's a hum to his images that recalls Inarritu, without quite the same manic intensity, and for a brief moment or two puts one in mind of Scorsese, particularly GoodFellas (an early bar-fight scene recalls the dreamy, fixed-in-time feeling of some of Scorsese's violence). His lead actor, Romain Duris, has something of the young De Niro's quality of pent-up violence and greasy charm, but leavened by a more intellectual, less visceral Europeanness. Like Scorsese and De Niro in Taxi Driver, Audiard and Duris conspire to create a memorable study of a low-life seeking to emerge from the slime, though this time the low-life is armed with talent and confidence, and seems maybe capable of turning his dire situation around.

The low-life, Thomas Seyr, is a real-estate broker who's involved in all sorts of shady business deals; he and his slimy partners, Fabrice (Jonathan Zaccai) and Sami (Gilles Cohen), spend much of their time chasing squatters out of the buildings they've procured (planting rats in their room is a favorite tactic), and trying to work their way around government housing regulations (when a group of homeless come to take up residence in one of their tenements they hurriedly smash everything, rendering the rooms uninhabitable; the script seems to be taking advantage of certain sore social issues here). Thomas, a button-man who happens to sometimes work in an office, was born to this kind of work; his father, Robert (the marvelous Niels Arestrup), is also involved in less-than-legitimate enterprise, and sometimes calls upon Thomas to take care of unpleasant business (like beating people up who refuse to pay). Thomas, however, has an unexpected artistic side; his deceased mother was a concert pianist, and one day while driving around the city he encounters her old manager, Fox (Sandy Whitelaw), who encourages him to return to his study of the piano, which he has nearly given up. This awakens in Thomas some latent ambition, a desire to escape his sleazy circumstances; he re-commits himself to his art, which leads him to the door of a recent Chinese immigrant, Miao Lin (Linh Dan Pham), who tutors him, somewhat awkwardly as she speaks no French and he no Chinese. Thomas's less-than-honest life has saddled him with numerous obligations however, ones it will be difficult to leave behind.

The movie's theme is a familiar one: the impossibility of entirely escaping one's past, especially when one is still actively engaged in living the life that has caused one to have a shady past in the first place. Rather than deal with this in some abstract way, Audiard tackles the theme organically; we see what a bundle of unspent nervous energy Thomas is, and realize how his essential personality, his craziness, is the thing that really keeps him from being a pianist instead of a thug. This is not a story of fate being for or against anyone; it's not some cosmic force that keeps Thomas from leaving behind his old life but his own nature, and that of the people around him, especially his father, who is fundamentally a coward and needs Thomas to take care of things for him. Thomas's artistic endeavors are hindered by his inability to focus himself; he can't sit still for a second, and when he plays, the frustration drives him to hammer the keys like he should be able to beat a tune out of the instrument the same way he beats money out of people who owe. His personality is all jagged edges, and what he needs is to smooth them out, to reign in his impulses, his anger. This makes his introduction to Miao Lin all the more fortunate, for she has the patience of a saint, the quiet firmness needed to help tame his immature nature, to bring his fires under control. Romain Duris gives a live-wire performance as Thomas, something reminiscent of the Mean Streets De Niro, and that other great seventies sleaze-ball actor Warren Oates. He's basically an overgrown kid; he seems like his system is always pumped full of sugar (or maybe something stronger), and he has no inhibitions whatsoever which makes him a kick to be around, yet there's something doomed about him, the quality of a ticking time-bomb. Thomas might be a fun guy and a loyal friend (his loyalty is one of his failings), but you just know that sooner or later life is going to blow up in his face.

Audiard and writing partner Tonino Benacquista have smoothly transplanted the plot of James Toback's '70s cult item Fingers (which starred Harvey Keitel), and tweaked it to make it work in modern-day France. The pair seem to have an affinity for rough-edged-but-lovable characters coming under the influence of tender-but-firm women; their earlier film, Read My Lips, dealt with a similar situation, but was more straightforwardly a thriller, and didn't seem as refined either narratively or thematically as The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Audiard is a fantastically assured director, able to infuse a scene with energy without resorting to empty stylistics, and able to elicit dynamic performances that never edge into showiness. Audiard has a feel for the natural energies his actors give off; he taps into Duris's nervous charm, the nagging inadequacy of Niels Arestrup as Thomas's nuisance of a father, the radiant stillness of Linh Dan Pham as Miao Lin. This is one director who makes good movie-making seem easy, rather than making it seem hard on purpose so people will appreciate it more. Add Audiard to the list of modern directors whose next film is a must-see


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