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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Jacques Audiard (Director). Artifical Eye (2005)

This is a very engaging drama that darts away from the expectations it sets up in a very satisfactory fashion. Thomas Seyer (Romain Duris) is a violent real estate broker, willing to resort to extreme methods to remove tenants from property and keeping them out. When he is offered the opportunity to audition as a concert pianist for his late mother's manager he comes into conflict with his father and his partners. His father (Niels Arestrup) is in the same business as Thomas, he wants Thomas to recover a debt he is owed by a Russian gangster, Minskov (Anton Yakovlev). Thomas's partners are unhappy with his being distracted by the music. The film juggles the two threads of the story with care, capturing Thomas's increasing frustration and impatience with his musical progress. The reveals are cleverly staged and the film builds to a savage,surprising and very satisfying conclusion.
Romain Duris is superb in the lead role, he has a ferocious charisma full of tightly wound and barely controlled energy. The conflict between the grip of the obligations of the present to his father and his partners and the possibility of a new life via music is vividly conveyed in his performance.
Niels Arestrup gives an equally outstanding performance of waning force and power, dependant on the son he loves while being a touch resentful of it. He wants Thomas to stick to the business as he needs him to help, the music is both a distraction and an unwelcome reminder of Thomas's mother. Linh Dan Pham delivers in a savagely difficult and unforgiving role with subtle dignity and care, she plays Miao Lin, the non-French speaking piano coach Thomas's hires to help him prepare for the audition.
The whole film has a taut atmosphere that never gives way, a great structure that brings the cast together in unexpected and engaging ways and delivers a great payoff, intriguing and very enjoyable.

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