Thomas "Tom" Seyr (Romain Duris) is an angry young man. Having followed in his father's footsteps in the world of shady real estate deals, he hates himself for what his job makes him do, but he can't find the resolve to escape his father's influence. However, his late mother was a concert pianist, and he inherited from her a talent for classical music; one day, he chances upon her former impresario, and decides to reacquaint himself with the piano.
In order to practice, he takes lessons with a recently arrived Vietnamese woman pianist, Miao-lin (Linh Dan Pham), and gradually reawakens his long-dormant skills. But the world of fast and dirty money isn't one that can be easily left behind.
Contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The Beat That My Heart Skipped takes the basic idea of Fingers and runs with it, leaving out much of the original film's material. The change of setting from 70s New York to 2000s Paris necessitates some changes in how the protagonist does business and relates to women. Many of the scenes are directly adapted with minimal or no changes to the script (save for the translation).
- Adaptation Expansion: The time left from distilling the other elements of the original all goes into fleshing out the story of Tom's struggle with the piano.
- Anti-Hero: Tom starts out as a tortured, self-hating, violence-prone and not very likeable character.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Neither Tom nor Miao-lin speaks a language that the other understands. He addresses her in French, and she in Vietnamese.
- Big Bad: Minskov, the Russian gangster who scammed Tom's father and later has him killed.
- Everybody Smokes: Apart from Miao-lin, everyone does.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Tom uses it against a restaurant owner who owes his father money.
- HeelFace Turn: Tom tries to redeem himself by turning to music.
- Love Triangle: Tom has an affair with a friend's wife.
- The Mafiya: Tom's father bites more than he can chew when he gets involved with a Russian mobster.
- Missing Mom: Tom's mother died ten years earlier. It is in part to reconnect with her memory that he starts practicing the piano again.
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Tom's friends are all involved in the same shady deals as he is, making it all the harder for him to leave that life.
- Sexy Surfacing Shot: There's a gratuitous scene where Minskov's attractive girlfriend is climbing out of the hotel's swimming pool in a skimpy black bikini.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Tom. Well, not tall, but dark and handsome all right.
- Titled After the Song: The film is named after a line in "La Fille du Père Noël", a song by Jacques Dutronc (which isn't featured in the soundtrack).