Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)

Having seen this and Read My Lips, I now think of Jacques Audiard as France's answer to Gary Fleder. He's a perfectly competent genre workhorse who nevertheless will likely never make a good film because he can't let his film work itself out. Nothing is subtle when it can be big, bold and obvious. I suspect Audiard is, on some level, aware of these tendencies within himself. Otherwise, why the opening monologue from a minor character that spells all the film's father issues right the fuck out? I never got the sense, watching this, that the characters in it exist when they aren't on camera -- everyone sort of drifts in when needed and then drifts out again to be forgotten until the next plot point. Roman Duris deserves a lot of credit for attempting an inward performance in a film that's all surface, but he's in over his head. Audiard also deserves to be slapped for two punishable-by-testicle-stomping offenses: Firstly, he sets an act of violence to an ironically sunny pop song (this time "The Locomotion"), which is so hoary that it's depressing to see people still doing it, and secondly he casts Emmanuelle Devos and wastes her in a dumb, pointless role -- you just don't waste the amazing Ms. Devos. What this film reminds me of most is a faux Grecian urn -- it's pretty on the outside, but if you look into it all you'll find is stale air and cobwebs. You can do better, France. We have enough hackwork like this here, thanks all the same.

Grade: C


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