Romain Duris stars as Thomas Seyr, a 28 year old torn between two worlds in The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Like his father, he’s in real estate, but that’s the polite way of putting it. He’s really a hoodlum that does the dirty work of chasing out illegal immigrants and squatters in the buildings he acquires with his mates. He’s good at his job too. With a mean grimace, he manages to use force to make things work his way. He and his mates work hard and party harder. Yet he doesn’t seem happy, if at all. His dad keeps getting him to help clean up messy business matters and he’s pretty much doing unpleasant things and not feeling quite legit most the time.

Dat sum Deehor rite thurr.

His real dream, is to be like his late mother, a concert pianist. Which is a world and a half apart from his normal life. A chance encounter with his mother’s former manager leads to him rediscovering the fire within. He loses focus on his day job, but still grudgingly goes through with it, whilst he contracts a Vietnamese/Chinese piano tutor to help him practice for an audition.

Things come to a head as he gets dragged out of bed on the eve of the audition to work. He blunders his big chance the next day and you wonder, what’s gonna happen next? The film then skips on 2 years and reaches a calming, pleasant finale.

Director Jacques Audiard lets everything play out with a very good tempo. The film never once felt sluggish or excessive, calmly switching between Duris violently slamming the piano keys or slamming someone’s face with ease. Handheld camera always transfixed on that rugged face, its a riffy, yet elegant ride through the streets of Paris.

The film is a study in contrasts, in ups and downs made beautiful by the great soundtrack. The recurring song Duris keeps playing is a piece by Bach, Toccata in E minor, which is quite marvelous really. But there’s also Telepopmusik, Bloc Party and The Kills as well, all very pretty stuff if I say so myself.

Duris is the centre of attention. If you wanna talk about intense roles, this is it. He’s got a mug like Ian Brown or Noel Gallagher with a good dash of Jean-Paul Belmondo’s mannerisms. In fact, I did get a bit of A bout de Souffle in this film, particularly when Duris brushes his lips or when he skips in and out of bars and cafes. In fact, I kinda think of it as the electro update to the new wave style. Definitely worth skipping a beat to catch this one I say.

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