The Beat That My Heart Skipped

107 minutes 2013

Fingers, James Toback's 1978 debut feature about a second-generation gangster who plays classical piano, was described by Dave Kehr as "dauntingly personal filmmaking, full of strange, suggestive ideas and deep feelings that are never made comprehensible for the audience." Despite the enthusiasm of everyone from Pauline Kael to Edgardo Cozarinsky and Francois Truffaut, I never liked Toback's piece of macho braggadocio, so this 2005 remake by Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips) couldn't go anywhere but up. It's more than a simple improvement, inverting some of the original's qualities so that the impersonal, well-crafted filmmaking remains lucid throughout. Even more unexpectedly, the piano lessons taken by the hero (Romain Duris, very fine) from a Vietnamese woman (Linh-dan Pham) who speaks no French are more highly charged than any of the violence. Niels Arestrup is striking as the hero's slumlord father. In French with subtitles.

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