Cinema-Maniac: Grand Piano (2014) Movie Review

Grand Piano follows Tom Selznick, a master pianist who retired from playing five years prior due to a meltdown on stage, performing for this first time in five years discovers a note written on his sheet music that claims if he plays a wrong note he will die. Preposterous, over the top, and flimsy are best fitted to describe “Grand Piano” plot. Never being one for common sense it’s a thriller that does not rack up suspense because of how far fetched the basics premise is. Immediately once the antagonist plans gets started many questions begin popping up it expects the viewer to ignore. Every clue given to solve its mystery is done unsubtly revealing too much with little to work out for the viewer. With the exception of Tom Selznick and the film antagonist character development is slim. Secondary characters bare little weight in how the plot actually plays out. Some characters are obligatorily created to become victims, though the victims death don’t heighten the tension seeing how little the characters were involved in the first place. It plot flaws are visible; however, it’s a film that knows how to execute. While the plot is not exactly high minded it is cleverly structure. The cat and mouse game has enough intrigued to sustain its run time. Conversations between Tom and the films antagonist carry strong dialogue for large portion of the film. Tom (our protagonist) reacts reasonably (minus the climax) in his situations albeit it might result in a negative impact. No matter how slim plausibly may be for the film it never overstays its welcome. It has enough set pieces and ideas to support itself to the end even if it asks too much suspension of disbelief. Enjoyment of the story is also equal to how much you can buy the antagonist motivations for his plan.

Director Eugenio Mira’s visual work is surely inspired and successful. Once Elijah Wood gets to the concert hall, everything has a grand, classy, and polished look to it. However, Mira’s work doesn’t truly shine until Elijah begins playing the piano. There are a lot of sweeping shots and wonderfully-captured scenes with Wood’s fingers running across the keys that perfectly represent the character’s tension. There’s a lot of great selection of classical music throughout the running time, which has wonderful clarity as its fluid editing. Director of photography Unax Mendia uses plenty of long, highly choreographed and well blocked single take shots that remind the viewer the film is taking place in real time. The shots are impressive, often involving dozens of actors and extras moving in front of or around the camera as it cranes in or out on its focal point. With everything that’s going on around the set, the production is almost like live theater, only with the viewer stuck right in the middle. Elijah Wood handily conveys a nervous, anxious, and jaded musician with limitless talents and plenty of insecurities. Wood makes his character captivating through his easy and relatable presence. No matter how far fetch the plot is Elijah Wood always feels grounded. John Cusack is solid here too, even if his character is a bit on the one-dimensional side of things, as we spend most of the movie only hearing his calculating voice rather than seeing him. One important thing note even though the film runtime says ninety minutes; twelve of those minutes are slow running closing credits with a hit or miss ending.

Grand Piano is preposterous, but a well executed film. The initial premise won’t rack up suspense or thrills. It does offer good writing, a great selection of classical music, and solid performances that can keep you engage for its short run time. Production values equal that of a classical concert and on the technical sides takes surprisingly many liberties despite how restraint the material is. A high end thriller Grand Piano is not, but a solid film that makes up for its weakness it is.

7/10

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