Christine A. (WriteReviseEdit) from ROCHESTER, NY Reviewed on 11/30/2015...
This movie got a ton of exceptionally favorable reviews, which intrigued me. And, though it takes a while to see what's so special about it, I'm glad I saw it and would recommend it as viewing for anyone interested in contemporary foreign films (it's French), movies about the underworld and/or flicks that focus on the protagonist's own struggles, desires and realizations. The cast was well-selected and the story line is fairly unique. In fact, it could easily have devolved into a trite love-triumphs-over-evil tale - but, thankfully, never did.
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The Music That Makes Me Dance
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 10/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tom (Romain Duris) works as a sort of real-estate thug. He and his partners trash buildings in low-income areas, buying them low and selling them high for a quick profit. It's a grotesque scam that involves letting sewer rats loose in target buildings so as to scare out squatters and sometimes paying tenants. Tom's work is morally corrupt and physically debilitating and Tom manifests this corruptness in the very core of his being: he's depressed, violent, short-tempered and vehemently without empathy and humanity. He is only seemingly nice when a good-looking woman is around and that is only so he can bed her. Then one day he spots his dead mother's music manager who promises him an audition which draws Tom back into his musical training: something he deserted many years before. Tom throws himself into classical music at first as a challenge to recapture his talent. But what he doesn't initially realize is that music will ultimately prove to be his salvation...turning him from the darkness to the light. Music has always been something that Tom has associated with what little good he has experienced in his life. To him, music recalls his loving mother. To him, music has always meant love. And he grasps at a life in music like a drowning man grasps at a life preserver. He is as neurotic at reclaiming his musical talent as he is at stealing, drinking, drugging and cheating. He has a goal for the first time in many, many years. Romain Duris ("The Spanish Apartment," "Le Divorce") heretofore has always been the good guy: young and sweet yet in both of these roles he was always a little devious, a little devilish. Here, Duris is all about Cuban-heeled shoes, black leather jacket, buffed out body, dyed black hair and unflinching scowl. More importantly, Tom has a big black hole where his soul should be and he uses his love of music to fill it...little by little as a compulsive eater uses food to fill an emptiness that is never quite satiated. Duris gives a profound, thoughtful and passionate performance. Director Jacques Audiard (the sublime "Read My Lips") has made a film redolent of darkness and misanthropy on one hand and hope and light on the other. And it is this ambiguity that makes this film snap with world-weary wit and non-sanctimonious truth. Redemption through the intricacies and beauty found within and between the notes of a Bach Toccata? Oh, yes. "
Music and the journey towards self-redemption
_tMF | Europe | 06/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a distinct quality and style that most French films have, among them, the subtle music that plays on the background, or the use of silence to heighten emotions. But this movie made use of a much `louder' more modern music to really bring in the characters. Directed by Jacques Audiard, The Beat that my Heart Skipped is actually a remake based on the 1978 American movie Fingers. But unlike some remakes, it surpasses the original, not only because of the vision of its Director but for the powerful portrayal of its lead actor, Romain Duris.
In one of the most memorable performances of any actor of his generation, Duris transformed himself into Tom, a hoodlum who terrorizes poor urban dwellers in order to buy cheap properties and sell them for profits. There is a tradition to his work as he inherits the same `vocation' from his father. There is, however, a certain side to Tom, an artistic side, the one talent he inherited from his dead mother- the love of classical music and an ability (a remarkable talent, actually) to play the piano. As he struggles to maintain some semblance of `humanity' in his arresting and despicable character, he has to make a choice whether to remain loyal to his father and continue in their work or pursue a career in music, perhaps the only way out for him and a chance to redeem himself.
"De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté", is more than just a film about self-discovery and of love, it is a powerful testament to the ability of an individual to change. "
This is a jewel of storytelling
C. B Collins Jr. | Atlanta, GA United States | 07/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an exceptional film, a wonderful tale of violence and spiritual redemption. The actions lead to a tension building climax. Romain Duris was superb by any measure in the lead role of Tom. Whereas the other reviewers do a super job of telling the storyline and comment upon the excellent cinematography and acting, I would like to point out that this is a wonderful retelling of the heroic myth of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King. I will give a Jungian interpretation of the film below:
Tom, the real-estate thug, is a modern Parsifal. Caught in a world of violence, he has tasted the Holy Grail, the spiritual window opened by classical piano, through his deceased mother. But he now lives in the world of the wounded Fisher King, his mobster father, ill and aging quickly. The world of the Fisher King is always in disarray, which is certainly the case of the world of Paris' low rent dumps and greedy slum lords. Tom and his father's world consist of making and breaking business deals, using insider information for real estate speculation, and driving squatters from deserted buildings. But in the search for the Holy Grail, Parsifal must integrate the feminine into his soul by laying beside his Anima, neither seducing her nor being seduced by her. Tom falls sexually twice in the film, seducing his business partner's wife and then a Russian mobster's girlfriend. But, the Chinese piano tutor becomes the Anima that is not seduced and does not seduce until his personality is integrated. He remains chaste with her until his spiritual task is completed. The death of his father makes Tom the Fisher King and thus the corruption can end if Tom is able to fully integrate the feminine into his soul. This he does and he passes an ultimate test of revenge and forgiveness in the final minutes of the film. In the final scene, we see Tom, with bloody hands sit in the concert hall, watching his tutor play in concert, and we see in his bright and deep set eyes that he has been redeemed and made whole. A lovely re-telling of the classic myth of male emotional development.
If you are not a Jungian or have never studies Carl Jung, never fear, for the film is 100% excellent for its superb entertainment value alone."
Mamzelle Bee | Michigan, USA | 02/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since you can read it elsewhere, I won't explain the premise. Instead, I will simply talk about the film itself.
The cinematography is decent, and the lighting is very good. It manages to capture each moment in a pale, sometimes almost dull, wash of color - perfectly reflecting the "nitty grittiness" of some of the scenes. The acting is good, and the casting very well done. The soundtrack is excellent.
All in all, the film is fresh - very different from many of the films I've seen lately, and radically so from any American film. The protagonist's struggle to recapture the piano is passionate and believable - especially for those of us who have ever endeavored an instrument. He's a fascinating character, and one well worth seeing.
Definitely check out this film - French language, if you can (I'm not certain if they've dubbed it, but it would really lose something in translation)."