If you’re looking for a mildly amusing thriller, I guess Grand Piano will do just fine. It’s easy to follow, relatively engaging and it features one hell of a main story. I could swear that I recently saw another movie with a similar premise but for the life of me, I cannot remember its name. Moving on, I just loved Elijah Woods performance here. Both him and John Cusack started picking some pretty odd roles as they got older. Anywhoo, you can clearly feel a Hitchcockian vibe here especially with the editing. I will also add pretty sleek and stylish cinematography to that list.
Grand Piano is also a strange movie with a strange vibe. Perhaps reasons for that can be found in the fact that the director Eugenio Mira is actually a composer. I think this adds another perspective to the movie and boy does it need one. Sure, the whole ticking-clock gimmick introduced at the beginning is great and all, but we need more. It’s like they came up with a couple of intelligent twists and stopped there, leaving the rest of the movie to be filled with, well, fillers. Still, I’m just a sucker for these single location movies and had to check this one out.
Tom Selznick is a brilliant pianist, but after he failed the impossible piece “La Cinquette” he retires from the scene. His teacher Patrick Godureaux passes away under mysterious circumstances and five years later, Tom decides to do another concert, in honor of his late mentor. Still insecure in himself, Tom reluctantly prepares for the big evening, but someone has other plans for him. He receives a note saying: “Play one wrong note and you die.”
Grand Piano is definitely a “suspend your belief and just go with it” kind of movie. There’s not much action as the story focuses on the mounting tension. A mounting tension that never really explodes in the glorious finale that I was expecting. Compared to Phone Booth, another movie with a similar setting, it’s more nuanced and stylish. With its refreshing main concept and a great setting, it will keep you going for eighty minutes. Mostly because of Wood’s trademark wild-eyed performance. He fucking carried this movie.
As you might have expected, the music is simply gorgeous here, even if you’re not a fan of classical music. Who knows, maybe after Grand Piano you’ll decide to become one. I know they’re not too related, but I would like to recommend you Pawn Sacrifice, a thriller based on real events starring Tobey Maguire. Come to think of it, Tobey and Elijah do look alike.
Director: Eugenio Mira
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Kerry Bishé, Don McManus, Alex Winter, Dee Wallace
Fun Facts: Alex Winter’s first non-cameo film acting role since Freaked.