A review of ďThe Beat That My Heart SkippedĒ by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: Not rated but should be R for language, nudity and violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. In French with English subtitles.

 

The French give good angst, never better than in this deliciously dark valentine to second chances and stepping out of the box.

Twenty-eight year old Tom Seyr (Romain Duris) is in a rut, destined to follow in his fatherís footsteps as a shady slumlord cum real estate enforcer who makes a living by forcing undesirables out of their homes by any brutal means necessary in order to buy on the cheap.

Tomís smug dysfunction barely masks the palpable hurt of his pianist motherís death and his fatherís chilly demeanor.Seems momís musical gift has been passed on to her son who has eschewed his instrument for a life on the fringes of respectability.

A chance encounter with his motherís former manager lights an unforeseen spark in Tom.He is inspired to return to the piano and rekindle the flame of that dormant passion, hiring a professional piano coach (Linh-Dan Pham as Miao-Lin) in the process and struggling to go straight.

Tomís life is chock full of unkempt messes in varying stages of transition and extrication is a heavy burden indeed.His partners refuse to cut him loose from the business, heís sleeping with his best friendís wife and dad is guilt-tripping him to extremes.

Needy and vulnerable, Tom nonetheless gains the necessary confidence to book an important audition and tries to put the pieces back together with less than desirable results.

Beat has a lot to say and it manages to get its point across despite a tempestuous lead -- who plays it with a sense of urgency thatís alternately charming and repellent -- and a tangent-heavy plot encompassing anger, resentment, intimacy, and revenge.

Claustrophobic camerawork is loosely disconcerting but the narrative never skips a beat in its desire to dig deep into emotional vulnerability, wrapping things up with a catchy twist.