(The Beat That My Heart Skipped)

July 20, 2005
Camera 12 — San Jose CA
French / English / Mandarin / Russian
108 minutes

Tom is a small time hood moving into the lucrative profession of slum lord. He beats up people behind in their rent, he throws out tenants when he wants to sell tenement housing. His father also dabbles on the wrong side of the law in between new girlfriends. His mother, a pianist of some renown, has died. Things are going along swimmingly–he’s partying with hookers, doing coke in bathrooms, covering for philandering buddies–until a chance meeting with his late mother’s manager. The manager invites Tom to audition for him with the possibility that a tour could follow. We’ve heard Tom’s taste in music and it weighs heavily towards electronica. Through this manager we learn that Tom himself was something of a prodigy and with the encouragement of the looming audition, he again puts his energy into his piano playing. But his thuggy friends are no fans of classical music or Tom’s new hobby.

Tom tries to balance his two lives. Crime and Music. He devotes himself to practicing completely. Indeed, he only seems at peace when he’s playing, either in his home studio or at his Chinese tutor’s apartment.

The film was very well done. Tom is mostly id, beating people up and bedding women, but then in front of the piano he seems almost terrified. There are jumpy shots when he’s in some sort of dangerous predicament. When something bad is happening, we hear music only. Tom puts on headphones when the world is getting to be too much. Is the leather-clad ruffian a believable pianist? Maybe not. But there is no doubt that he takes his audition very seriously.

I’m told that Harvey Keitel was cast in the American version that was remade, for once, by the French.

7.4 Critical Consensus
7.6 Metacritic


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Written by Michael W. Cummins