The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) Directed by Jacques Audiard
At about 20 minutes into The Beat That My Heart Skipped a song by The Kills plays over a scene and I decide to love the movie. The song confirms to me that everything about the film is intentionally how it is – I can trust what I see.
I knew nothing about this film before hand, but somehow was under the impression I was watching a thriller. When piano and classical music appeared I thought they were just a short diversion. But I was wrong. Piano is the key to the main character Thomas' internal battle. Piano playing allows him to see a way out of the crude world in which he works.
Throughout the film I fear for Thomas. There is hope all along and the bad luck never seems to fully catch up with him. Until the end. I enjoyed The Beat That My Heart Skipped very much, but as I'm writing this it is difficult to pinpoint what was so good about it. The lead actor, the credible ordinariness of the characters possibly.
In the end credits The Kills return again. Stylish, cool, yet reachable – that's the air I am left with.
Sometimes, one can muse on the coolness of the movies. I mean, I'm always amazed when someone in popular film ends up looking like John Cale circa Velvet Underground. I have only one example of this in mainstream cinema when not a rock bio picture, Peter Sellers in What's New Pussycat? James Toback's Fingers (1978) is a film I saw many moons ago and I've been trying to track down with little joy. My main memory of Fingers is Harvey Keitel's cool wardrobe and dandy jackets. The Beat That My Heart Skipped (original French title, De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté ) is a remake of Toback's cult favorite and retains the original picture's sense of style.
Romain Duris plays Thomas Seyr and the picture established Duris as the latest sensation in French Cinema. He's on screen pretty much the whole time bringing a cool energy to proceedings. He's super sexy, with a Gainsbourg pout and penchant for smoking combined with Belmondo's gruffness. Audiard directs with flair and keeps the picture rattling on at a good pace. Classical music mixes with contemporary.
It's fair to say that many of the plot machinations are of the fairly conventional thriller type and you can see some of the twists coming a mile off. There could have been a serious discussion here about housing and immigration problems in France, but the film merely uses this to heighten some kind of dramatic tension. It doesn't harm the film as such, this really is classy mainstream cinema. But style is to the fore and the biggest impression The Beat That My Heart Skipped left on me was Duris's super cool Cuban boots which would have made Velvet's era John Cale proud.