The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a small-scale milestone — the first European remake of an American art film — and part of what makes it a dizzy, gratifying experience is that the filmmaker, Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips), clearly updated James Toback’s Fingers because he couldn’t get it out of his head. In the 1978 original, Harvey Keitel, bopping through the New York streets in a fringed white scarf, was a Mob collector who was also a classical pianist — a violent stud-dandy torn between the gutter and the angels. The film was enraptured pulp, held together by Toback’s obsession with the thin line between seduction and force.
In The Beat That My Heart Skipped, the hero now works the sleazier side of Paris real estate, but the real change is one of tone. Where Keitel’s short-fused jukebox art punk lived in thrall to his divided nature, Thomas (Romain Duris), with his reflective handsomeness, is a man out to rescue himself from the sewer he’s tumbled into. The Beat That My Heart Skipped lacks the screw-loose existential vibrance of Fingers, yet it teases out a romantic underside to the original I never quite knew was there.