Beat That My Heart Skipped, The (UK - DVD R2)
Paul Greenwood tackles the recent DVD release of this French Artificial Eye title
Tom (Duris) is a Parisian real-estate agent cum small-time hood, equally at home whether setting up deals, working as an enforcer or shaking down people who owe money to his shady father (Arestrup). But a chance meeting with his mother's old music teacher revives his dreams of being a concert pianist and he begins devoting most of his time to practising so that he can audition for his old mentor.
But all this practising soon gets in the way of business and he starts to miss meetings. Moreover, his associates feel his head isn't in the right place and are concerned about his commitment. He also starts up an affair with the wife of his business partner. Meanwhile, his father has been getting mixed up with some very bad people, leaving Tom torn between a life of crime and his musical dream.
The Beat That My Heart Skipped ( De Battre Mon Couer S'est Arrêté) is an unusual and gripping drama that, who would've thunk it, is in fact a remake of an American movie, a 1978 James Toback film called Fingers. That film starred Harvey Keitel in the role now taken by Romain Duris, and his stunning performance becomes the The Beat’s main selling point. He's a seething ball of energy, whether he's kicking in heads or tinkling out a sonata.
The central premise is intriguing and is fleshed out by the difficult but still loving relationship between Tom and his father so that the direction Tom eventually decides to take hangs in the balance for the entire length of the film. Throw in a climactic coda that will have you on the edge of your seat and The Beat That My Heart Skipped can hold its head up high as probably the best foreign film of 2005.
The anamorphic transfer is extremely clear and clean with a blemish free print and no artefacts of any kind to be seen. Foreground objects are superbly detailed and the sharpness of the picture is very pleasing. Less well lit scenes can get a bit murky and lose some depth and detail in the shadows, but the overall look of even these scenes still remains impressive.
Dialogue is the main component of the 5.1 soundtrack and comes out strong and bold. The rears don't get much airtime and there's very little directionality, but a warm and vibrant soundscape is still created by clear and punchy sound effects and crystal clear music. There's also a fair amount of beef behind the music from the sub, making this an un-showy but functional track.
The interview heavy second disc houses all the extras and kicks off with director Jacques Audiard telling us about the genesis of the film and the themes that interested him. The character of Tom is covered in detail as are his working methods and the musical choices made. He's rather fidgety but it's worth waiting around for his summation of the film in a few words "Life gives you seconds, but the second time you have to be really hungry."
Co-writer Tonino Benaquista begins by telling us about how much he changed in his adaptation of Fingers. How he tries to incorporate film noir sensibilities into his screenplays is discussed as is how much of an inspiration Mean Streets was. Composer Alexandre Desplat reveals that he acted as translator when Audiard first met James Toback. The main musical themes are discussed and he praises the way Audiard works but gets a bit rambling when discussing some of the technicalities of making the film. These three segments run for a total of thirty five minutes.
Next up is a Q&A recorded in London in October 2005. It runs for forty nine minutes and initially covers a lot of the same ground as the interviews since one of the participants is Benaquista. He discusses how it's only a loose remake of Fingers in that they kept the basic premise but changed a lot of the details. Romain Duris tells how he read the script for The Beat before he saw the original and tried to distance himself from Keitel's performance and the casting process is discussed with Linh Dan Pham who plays Tom's piano tutor. One of the problems encountered here is that you need to sit through most of the answers twice—first in French with subtitles and then translated into English by the moderator for the benefit of the live audience.
There are a selection of deleted scenes that run for a total of twenty five minutes but are only watchable through a play all function, although you can use the chapter skip to move forwards or backwards through them. They're all quite rough and unmissed, and include Tom singing at a party and trying to sell his piano.
‘Rehearsal Footage’ is quite interesting and runs for ten minutes, featuring Duris and others rehearsing a couple of scenes while Audiard gives pointers and direction from off-screen.
Extras are rounded off by the theatrical trailer and filmographies.
The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a cracking film, well presented on DVD with top class picture quality and decent sound. A little less interview and a little more ‘making of[‘ would have made for a more rounded extras package, but there's still plenty there to get your teeth into. Recommended.
Review by Paul Greenwood
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 27th March 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Extras: Interviews, Deleted Scenes, Rehearsals, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Romain Duris, Niels Arestrup, Jonathan Zaccaï, Gilles Cohen, Linh Dan Pham, Aure Atika
Genre: Drama and Film-Noir
Length: 107 minutes
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