French director Jacques Audiard brings a visceral, emotional style in transposing James Toback's 1978 film Fingers into The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Switching the setting to Paris from New York plays wisely into the film's contemporary gritty portrait.
His protagonist is played with a volatile, persuasive angst by Romain Duris (L'Auberge Espagnole) as a late 20's shady enforcer supposedly following in the footsteps of his father. His father really isn't depicted as the underworld type he really is, but a tough real estate broker.
The departure from Toback's film which starred a deeply intense Harvey Keitel has to do with the familial conflict eating at Duris's Tom Seyr.
He's still hurting from the loss of his mother, a gifted concert pianist, and is in a squalid existence of extortion and unrespectability to appease his icy father.
In a plot strand similar to Hustle & Flow, Tom happens to meet up with his mother's ex-manager and reignites a passion that has been non-existent. Co-written by Audiard, Beat shows how Tom tries to right his messy life with the help of professional piano instructor Miao-Lin (Linh-Dan Pham).
Duris endows Tom with an unexpected harsh vitality that underlines the panic state that envelops him as he tries to extricate himself from the business and his dad. It doesn't help that he's also sleeping with the wife of his best friend.
The last act may take the viewer on more of a whirlwind than most would wish to endure but The Beat That My Heart Skipped is gripping because of Duris's tautly dark look into one man's vulnerability. The closed-knit lensing may be rather discomforting at times, but this intimate tale of anger and redemption is never burdened with boring stretches or transitions. And Audiard has a nice surprise for those who make it through what can be heartfelt, but often undesirable.
|The Beat That My Heart Skipped||B+||B+|