Thursday, September 02, 2010

Film Notes: The Beat That My Heart Skipped

Jacques Audiard's film, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" revolves around a young man, who is caught between two worlds. When we meet Thomas Seyr, (superbly played by Romain Duris) he is in the thick of corrupt property deals, violent evacuation of tenants, and affairs with various women who share his life in the Paris underworld. We soon discover that this is a world into which he has followed his father Robert (Niels Arestrup), who is now a vulnerable, drink-sodden victim of the property deals he once had the power to enforce.

The story gains its extra dimension when Thomas encounters some people who belong to a quite different world - that represented by his late mother. Rather than being a player in the world of property and organised crime, his mother was a creative artist with a huge reputation as a classical concert pianist. Thomas himself had shown (we infer) huge potential as a child pianist, but had abandoned the instrument upon his mother's death, and disappeared into his father's world.

As the gift of music is slowly but passionately re-awakened within him, Thomas is pulled in two different directions. His father's world; with deals to make, partners obligations to meet, evictions to force and most importantly scores to settle, is incessant in its desire to claim him. Yet - the force of music, the desire to create and inhabit a world of purity, integrity and beauty grows within him. The collision between these two moral universes is inevitable.

As the last half an hour of the film unravels, there is a straight conflict between the two worlds, the two forces, between which he must chose: criminal sensuality versus the creative spirit. Finally and dramatically forced to choose which will win, only at the end of the film do we discover whether this film is a dark, sinister exploration of the dark recesses of the human condition, or a redemption-narrative, with music cast in the role of saviour...

Brilliantly acted, directed, and with a luscious soundtrack, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" was a worthy winner of its 'foreign language' BAFTA a couple of years ago.
(cert 15, strong language/adult themes. French with English subtitles)

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