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Trying to wipe the slate clean

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By Kirsten Laskey

Four out of f ive kernelsWhen I first started watching, “The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” I thought I had it all figured out. A boy from the wrong side of the tracks meets a girl from the right side and undergoes a profound change.However, “The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” is anything but predictable. For most of the movie, Tom doesn’t seem to pay the “right” girl much mind and pursues someone else. Plus, when his big moment arrives to shine as a completely transformed man, the opposite actually happens. The movie will lead the viewer down twists and turns and where this spiral path will end is completely hidden.Tom is from the wrong side of the tracks. He follows his father’s footsteps and works as a realtor who embarks on shady dealings in Paris. He and his co-workers dump rats into apartments and throw tenants out onto the streets.In addition to his business, Tom has to deal with his father who losing his toughness and relies on his son to do his dirty work.However, a chance meeting with an old friend of his deceased mother, who was professional pianist, changes the state of Tom’s life.The movie questions how effectively a person can wipe the slate clean and start over. And its ending seems to pessimistically say that the slate can never be clean. Actor Romain Duris does a brilliant job of depicting Tom’s struggle to start afresh. He wants to give up his thuggish lifestyle to become a concert pianist and he works hard at it, getting lessons from a young Vietnamese woman, Miao-Lin (Linh-Dan Pham) who recently arrives in Paris, mimicking hand movements of a pianist on television and spending his nights playing the piano. However, he is never at ease. He is stiff as a poker on the piano bench and pounds on the keys. Although his attention to his day job begins to slide, Tom is never too sure of his abilities as a pianist. He first requests that his music teacher turn away when he is playing, before shouting at her when she doesn’t like his playing.Will Tom succeed as a pianist or will his co-workers and father always keep him shackled to violence and crime? The movie doesn’t answer this question neatly from beginning; it lures the viewer down a maze of a story. It’s a maze well worth entering.“The Beat That My Heart Skipped” will screen at 7 p.m. Thursday in the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos student center. Admission is $5 or $3 for those with a student ID.The UNM-LA and Los Alamos Arts Council’s Film Society sponsors the screening.