Directed by Jacques Audiard, starring Romain Duris, Niels Arestrup, Jonathan Zaccai, Gilles Cohen, Linh Dan Pham, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos, Anton Yakovlev, Sandy Whitelaw and Melanie Laurent.

French offering 'The Beat That My Heart Skipped' ('De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté') is not likely to be to everyone's taste. All about violence, sharply contradicted by the calming lullabies of melodic piano music, it is fast-paced throughout, although not an awful lot happens between the beginning and the end credits.

Thomas Seyr (Duris) is first and foremost a tough guy, loosely calling himself a property developer. In actual fact, what he does is to terrify people out of their homes - mostly done by releasing rats into their houses or breaking down the doors with baseball bats - in order to get quick cash sales.

Underneath though, if you care enough to delve this deep, there is a sensitive side to Thomas. His mother, who was a concert pianist, has instilled a huge love of music in him, which resurfaces and battles to take over all his time and rule his emotions. Right around this part of the film, you start to think that the clearly bad guy, who means well, is about to go on the straight-and-narrow, inspired by his love of music. That probably might have been a bit safe, but sometimes safe is not the most detrimental turn a film can take.

What follows is Thomas' string of personal battles with his arrogant father (Arestrup), his non-French speaking piano teacher Miao Lin (Dan Pham), his property dealer friends Fabrice (Zaccai) and Sami (Cohen) and his best friend's wife Aline (Atika). His story is tragic in parts. Bullied by his father, stuck in a vicious cycle of violence with his workmates and very much a loner, Thomas could be a pitiful character, but he inspires no sympathy at all. Cruel, cold and seemingly detached from everyone who tries to get near him, his crazy love of music isn't enough to make him seem nearly human enough.

With the potential to be so much more powerful than the end result, 'The Beat That My Heart Skipped' becomes tedious all too quickly, making it difficult to sustain interest in the overall plot or its protagonist.

Linda McGee