I’ve never seen Fingers. I get the feeling not many people in the UK have, and therefore short of the press notes and the credit it gets in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, why should it be mentioned? Those who have seen Fingers, rate it highly: Keitel doing sterling work apparently. Lots of people who have seen The Beat That My Heart Skipped liked it too (me included). So shock horror? A decent French remake of a decent America film is made.
The niggle is there though. Is The Beat… good because Fingers is also good. It strikes me that it is a story that may be difficult to do badly: thuggish mobster also happens to want to be a concert pianist, can both sides of his personality be reconciled. You get obsession (v.cinematic), you get violence (v.cinematic), you get loads of passionate classical music (v.audiomatic) and you get tragedy. Maybe. But this remake trades on snobbishness I fear. It trades on the idea that a French movie is clearly better than a US one, not clear in this case, and The Beat… is by no means perfect.
It ends with a coda, set two years later, which waters down its own tragedy, and plays on the idea that music hath soothed this savage beast. But it hasn’t. At the end of the film out piano player gets a chance to avenge the murder of his father, but – after laying down a nasty beating cannot kill the man. The film suggests that this is now because he live sin a world of classical music. But nothing in the film before suggested he was a murderer. Suddenly the workings of the film become clear: classical music makes you a better person. And the edifice of the film falls down. I wonder if Fingers does this. I might try and find out.