The Beat That My Heart Skipped(2005)
One of the finest french films of recent years. It's a remake, of course, of James Tobruk's 1978 movie Fingers which starred the young Harvey Kietel. So why's this so good. Well, first, second and last, there's the star, Romain Duris. He's dynamite in this. It's a star-making turn. He's got to be convincing as a thug-for-hire, flushing illegal-immigrants and squattrers out of buildings and, at the same time, a former piano prodigy trying to rekindle his career. It's borderline absurd and only an actor seething with poetry and violence could pull it off. Kietel, of course, had it in his prime, wandering the mean streets with god and redemption in his soulful eyes. Duris is just as good, if not better. Moody and hypnotic, he gives a performance that's not only intensly physical, but also loaded with wary emotions, private thoughts and twitchy fingers. He's not likeable but you ache for him nonetheless as he can't quite reach the sensitivity required to be a great pianist. Maybe it's been brutalised out of him or maybe he never really had it. Maybe it's just a relic of his past, a way of keeping his dead mother's memory alive. Whatever it is, the anger inside won't let him relax. He insists on hounding the music into submission. Meanwhile his gangster life isn't going away either. Jacques Audiard's direction is superb, all smeary neon and late-night faces lit by muted, dashboard lights. Edited with loose-limbed brilliance, it's a cool urban noir and an engrossing meditation on the mystery of talent.