Duris plays Tom, a wiry tough guy with a perpetually furrowed brow and knotted fists. His father Robert (Neils Arestrup) has him in an apprenticeship of shakedowns and crooked deals until Tom chances to bump into his old piano teacher, who offers him his card and a chance to pick up at the keys where he left off when his mother died. Tom's passion is immense, the only question being what he will use it for pounding the keys or cracking skulls. Making life even harder for himself by seducing the wife of a partner, his mental resources become stretched as they are pulled between art, love and work as a thug.
Duris is a fascinating actor, able to be both the Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro wrapped into one sensible but thwarted soul. Audiard helps by wrapping him in a visually absorbing world. He is adept when he wants to show emotion, and especially impressive in this film is the attempt to show disappointment: Tom, without enough sleep. walks outside after a failed piano recital into an unforgiving sunlight, the rough, callous street noises bleating in the background. He goes from a moment of supreme confidence to utter frustration, and Audiard adjusts the visual complement with great subtlety.
The overall story may seem too pat at times (Tom happens to run into the man who shot his father, and he ends up with the girl you're supposed to least expect but pull for all along). But overall, "The Beat that My Heart Skipped" is a lot like Tom. The ability may be suspect but the enthusiasm makes it worthwhile. - Wayne Melton
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