The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) - Commissioned Cast
This was an interesting movie and I'm glad I had an excuse to watch it. Overall, I wasn't a fan since the movie felt distracted thematically. The characters were solid, but yeah, there were many scenes that felt like they weren't doing anything. It's okay if I don't track with a movie 100% of the time, because some things need to stew or pay off later, but there's a threshold where it becomes a negative.
- I did think he was infatuated with his friend's wife. They were giving each other eyes every time he saw her. I've picked up friends and that isn't how I interact with their partners while waiting. Usually, because it's a friend, I'm extremely avoidant of any of that. Probably since his friend was cheating on her, our protagonist saw her as "available," and so it didn't feel like a betrayal. ... and it didn't even come to blows, right? I thought they were going to fight at one point, but it ended up being an urgent business deal. (Unless I'm misremembering.) I wish the movie had done something with that plot thread.
- About the movie's treatment of women and consent, man, it was 2005. Maybe in the "real world 2005" pushing past a woman's denial wasn't cool, but I do think the idea of a decent woman ipso facto playing coy was still in many writer's heads. Fuck, I wrote some sketchy shit around that time, as a woman, with the same idea in my head... that a good woman will play hard to get, and somehow, inexplicably, the man is able to tell the difference.
- About the ending, Jim mentioned how the protagonist saw his gangster friend on the street just before the concert. I think that's the key to the movie's ending. I hadn't noticed the parallel with him seeing his piano teacher on the street earlier in the movie (if I'm getting that right; I think I am). So seeing his gangster friend plus the zoom-up on his hands, which are now bruised and cut, makes me think the movie is telling us he's returning to his life of crime. And probably, he'll be much more crime-y. His piano playing "always had potential." Well, the same could be said about his life of crime... he hadn't fully invested in it, like his father. First we see him turning toward his mother, revisiting his piano talent. And I think after the movie ends, he will turn toward his father, revisiting his crime talent. First his hands are a pianist's hands. At the end, they are a criminal's hands.
- I was also constantly worried he was going to damage his fingers or hand. When he was beating up the cook for his father, he squeezed his wrist like he'd hurt it. So, definitely intentional from the movie, I think. Maybe a cue for us to pay attention to his hands.
- I took piano for 12 years growing up. As a Christian fundamentalist I was discouraged from any form of dancing, and one piano teacher interpreted this as not playing any music that would make someone even want to dance, like ragtime. So I certainly was given no instruction about how to use one's body to bring feeling to a piece. But some of my peers were (I went to music camps! oy vey) and yes, the exaggerated wrist movement is just to relax your wrist, like how you take deep breaths in yoga. Both a ritual and a means to an end. Not every legitimate pianist does that, of course, but relaxation is still important to fully express in a piece. Especially something so technical as Bach. You can jam yourself up really fast, with Bach. (I think that's who he was playing...) And there, that's a relic from my almost totally wasted 12 years of being taught "piano for church pianists" essentially.
- So I just accepted squeezing a man's crotch would debilitate him. Every time a guy gets kicked in the crotch in a movie they just fall over like they're useless now. Okay, okay, so he could have kept his shit together and shot the gun? Interesting.