In Her Hands (Au Bout des Doigts)
Mathieu is a young man with a passion for piano who dabbles in petty burglary. He lives with his mother and siblings in a white tower block in the suburbs of Paris. He helps steal and peddle objects on the streets and, in his spare time, he plays piano at the local subway station. When Mathieu is sentenced to community service and finds himself cleaning the Paris Conservatoire, a leading member of the music school takes an almost obsessive interest in his talent and pushes him to fulfill his musical potential.
In Your Hands features interesting, if sometimes hodgepodge, cinematography. The colour scheme is usually cold, with sharp whites and blues – perhaps reflecting the main character’s initially surly nature. There is an interesting montage during an intimate scene which blends multiple shots in one frame, the images flowing into each other as they are cut with acoustic music and piano footage.
The music starts off very classical and, as the character starts to open up more, it becomes more vocal, with rock music (the Pixies’ Where Is My Mind is featured) adding to the mood of the shots.
The storyline is familiar: a young, poor protégé is noticed by an esteemed professional who is battling with his own demons. Together they beat the odds and the young nobody succeeds, becoming more famous than all the privileged people around him. There are a few questions in this story: did Mathieu know how to read sheet music and, if not, how did he learn so quickly? How is someone who has had perhaps a year or so of one-on-one training able to play such complex pieces? Self-made musical geniuses are real, but the story behind how Mathieu got where he is before he joins the conservatoire is a little hazy. The flashbacks to young Mathieu with his music teacher are sweet, but they don’t give much detail. The musical score is very impressive and there are some genuinely heartfelt moments, but the storyline could have done with more thought.
Mathieu’s character feels a little under-cooked. He is sweet to his siblings but unnecessarily rude to the people trying to help him. Having pride and feeling insecure about his less affluent background makes sense, but it’s still not clear why Mathieu behaves the way he does – which is also why his personal growth feels a bit lacking. Perhaps he’s just a surly teenager who grows into himself, but that’s not made clear.
Overall this film is a nice if not revolutionary story of an underdog making it as a classical musician. It won’t change lives, but the acting and musical elements are good enough that it doesn’t feel like a waste of time.
In Her Hands (Au Bout des Doigts) is released digitally on demand on 10th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for In Her Hands (Au Bout des Doigts) here: