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The Beat that My Heart Skipped (2/10)

by Tony Medley

Thank God for Jacques Audiard. With this film he proves that rotten movies aren’t the sole province of Hollywood. In remaking James Toback’s cult 1978 “Fingers,” Audiard presents Thomas (Romain Duris), a 28-year-old real estate scoundrel who is in the process of evolving from a life of crime into a classical pianist. It’s a journey that had me looking at my watch about every five minutes to calculate exactly how many more minutes I had to sit there and squirm and try to stay awake.

Actually the story itself is a lot more interesting than the way Audiard and screenwriter Tonino Benacquista present it on screen. Thomas and his father, Robert (Niels Arestrup), have reversed roles. The aging Robert, a slumlord, is asking Thomas to help solve his problems, which usually involve Thomas having to strong arm people to get them to pay their debts to Robert. This is right up Thomas’s alley because his business is forcing people out of buildings so his clients can redevelop them.

In the meantime, Thomas is reintroduced to his piano career and gets the services of a Vietnamese piano coach, Miao-Lin (Linh-Dan Pham), who doesn’t speak French. Although their relationship is volatile, they seem to be falling for each other, despite the fact that about the only way they communicate is by yelling at one another.

When a Russian mobster, Minskov (Anton Yakovlev) stiffs Robert and then beats him up, Thomas confronts him and seduces his girl friend in a bathroom stall. Minskov reacts poorly to Thomas, to the detriment of Thomas and Robert.

Sounds interesting, but the movie is 107 minutes of pure tedium, a far cry from the quality of Audiard’s last outing, the outstanding French noir “Read My Lips” (2001). Oh, well, nobody’s perfect.

June 8, 2005