Jacques Audiard

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

, /10

Jacques Audiard (France, 1952)

Regarde les Hommes Tomber/ See How They Fall (1994)

Un Heros Tres Discret/ A Self-Made Hero (1996)

The psycho-thriller Sur mes Levres/ Read My Lips (2001), possibly his best film,

De Battre Mon Cour S'Est Arrete'/ The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005), whose story is based on James Toback's Fingers, is an emotionally gripping portrayal of a man troubled by two many colliding lives. Unfortunately it is ruined by an irrelevant ending. Before the final scene, the protagonist was living a highly symmetric doppelganger kind of life: on one hand the business man, trained by his father to be ruthless, with a gorgeous if dumb sexual partner and a nemesis who is a mobster, and on the other hand the musician, trained by his mother to be a loser, with an angelic and sexless teacher and a benefactor who is a classical music expert. This is a wildly multicultural story in which immigrants pop up everywhere: they are squatters, mobsters, bad tenants, but also devoted piano teachers. A lot of them don't speak any French, which makes it difficult for the protagonist to communicate with them other than through violence or money.

A man tells a friend, Thomas, how his father regressed to being a helpless baby and he had to take care of his father like he was his son. Three young men drive at night, discussing shady deals. They drop rats in a building to get rid of the people who moved in there illegally. Next, two of them, Fabrice and Thomas, fight with squatters and a city official who defends the squatters. To avoid more squatters, the two demolish the rest of the building. Thomas' job is to make real estate deals with derelict buildings, and in most cases this involves the use of stratagems to get rid of the families that live in such abandoned places, mostly poor immigrants from Africa. He learned the trade from his father. He meets him at a restaurant and learns that he wants to get married again, this time with a very young girl. Thomas is hostile to the girl and tells his father that she's just a whore. His father has problems with an Arab tenant who hasn't paid rent in six months and asks Thomas to take care of it. While driving around, Thomas accidentally recognizes an old man: his (now dead) mother was a concert pianist and this was her manager. Thomas used to be a promising classical pianist and now the old man wants him to audition for him. The truth is that Thomas has not played in ten years, having been initiated to the real estate business by his father. Something awakens inside Thomas, though, who now wants to find out if he can still play. He is introduced to a fresh immigrant from China, a woman named Miao who doesn't speak any French. His father is hostile to the idea because his mother ended cheating on him and dying poor. Thomas would rather not help his father with the Arab tenant, but the tenant beats his father and then Thomas breaks into the place, sets fire to the kitchen, beats the tenant and holds a knife to his throat until he gets the money owed to his father. His father raised him to become this enforcer of real estate deals, not to become the pianist that his mother wanted him to become. Thomas loves his father, but now wants his freedom to dream. His friend and business partner Fabrice uses Thomas to cheat on his gorgeous wife Aline: whenever Fabrice has an appointment with another woman, he pretends that he's having dinner with Thomas. Meanwhile, Thomas begins to take lessons from Miao: it is a painful experience, as he has lost much of his technique. Later that night he brings back home a very drunk Fabrice and faces a suspicious Aline. Now he basically lives three lives: a night life of clubs and loud music, a suit and tie life of business deals, and the life of a piano student. When Aline finds Thomas alone without Fabrice when the two men are supposed to be dining together, Thomas stops pretending. Aline knows that her husband has been cheating on her. Thomas has been secretely admiring the beautiful and elegant Aline, and now he has a chance to tell her and to test her feelings. It turns out she is attracted too. They become lovers. Now he has a fourth life: secret lover of Aline. The suit and tie business is going downhill because he is distracted by his piano lessons. He keeps seeing Aline and is jealous that she is still having sex with Fabrice and makes her jealous telling her that he too sleeps with other women. The Chinese teacher is very strict and demanding. Thomas' father is beaten by a Russian partner who refuses to return some bribe money. His father also broke up with his fiance. Thomas has lunch with her and offers her money to watch over his father, feeling that the man is getting old and cannot be trusted anymore. Now he has a fifth life: watching over his aging father. Thomas finds the Russian in luxury hotel, but realizes that he is a dangerous mobster, constantly followed by two bodyguards. Thomas can only take his revenge indirectly, seducing the Russian's very young French girlfriend. Thomas is increasingly frustrated that the Chinese girl is so much better than him as a pianist. But one day she finally says "good" at his playing and makes him smile. Just in time: it's the eve of the audition. She tells him that he needs to rest, but instead his business partners bang at his door in the middle of the night with the news that they have a chance to close an important deal right away about an empty building. She told him to relax and sleep: instead he has to help his friends take care of squatters. This time Thomas is disgusted watching his partners enjoy the African immigrants run away after their furniture has been destroyed. Morning comes and Thomas walks to the audition. Whether because he didn't sleep enough or because the piano lessons were not enough, he badly fails the audition. Later he finds his father killed in his apartment.
The film suddenly fast forwards by two years: Thomas has become the manager (and possibly the boyfriend) of the Chinese pianist, who now speaks fluent French. It's an important night for her. He takes her to the concert hall but then notices the Russian mobster who killed his father and follows him in the restrooms. Thomas attacks him and they end up fighting in the stairwell while the Miao's concert has started. Thomas grabs the Russian's gun to finish him but can't. He then washes his face in the restrooms and walks to his seat in the auditorium to watch the Chinese pianist finish her performance.

Un Prophete/ A Prophet (2009)

De Rouille et d'Os/ Rust and Bone (2012)

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )