Based on the 1978 film “Fingers,” directed by James Toback, “The Beat that My Heart Skipped” tells the story of a young man conflicted between a life he is obligated to and one that he wholeheartedly wants to pursue.
Thomas Seyr leads a less than honorable life working for his father in “real estate.” He takes care of his father’s dirty work, demanding money from unfavorable tenants. He goes through life with the satisfaction of knowing that he is doing what his father desires of him and feels no regret in doing so. However, the balance in his life shifts when he meets his late mother’s piano agent. Seyr’s intrigue with being a concert pianist takes over his life; the passion that he had once suppressed reemerges and threatens the relationship he has with his father as well as his simple life. Thomas must now decide whether to keep the memory of his mother alive or satisfy the wishes of his beloved father.
Director Jacques Audiard, known for “Read My Lips” creates an interesting work of art in his portrayal of the hero’s internal conflict between a weighty responsibility and a compelling desire. He builds off of a theme that we have all seen many times in literature and film alike. Crime and music seem to be at polar ends of the spectrum, but Audiard manages to produce a believable entanglement of the two. One aspect of Thomas’s life is brutal and violent while another brings out his humanity and creativity. Audiard’s film style really adds to the tension of this inner discord by opening another angle into this character’s daily life. The audience is able to see inside Thomas’s confusion and the dilemma he faces from his own point of view. Thomas, played by French actor Romain Duris, carries the weight of the film entirely on his shoulders and does a magnificent job. Duris’s performance serves as a monologue and all other characters are mere props for him to work off.
Being an art house film, this French film requires the audience to really focus in on the main character. There is not much action in the film, and even if some major movement occurs, it is only for a split second. This is definitely not a bells-and-whistles type movie; it is much more script-driven. Squint your eyes just right and “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” resembles Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist.” Both films narrow in on the protagonist’s undying love for music and that passion is what ultimately carries them through the time the audience encounters them.
“The Beat That My Heart Skipped” is an exceedingly pensive film that is already enjoying rave reviews and many awards all around the world. It requires the audience to pay close attention and think about the Thomas’s future once the audience leaves him. It’s safe to say that the subtle nature of the film will not be appreciated by all. Those who need the big bang show may be disappointed by it and should probably avoid going to see it. However, those who enjoy good filmmaking will be in for a visual indulgence.
“The Beat That My Heart Skipped” plays in Campbell Hall on May 2 at 7:30 pm.