Grand Piano (2013)
Directed by Eugenio Mira
Though preposterous, the mere premise of “Grand Piano” promises suspense and excitement. And, thankfully, it pretty much comes through. For a low-budget, foreign, indie film with Elijah Wood, “Grand Piano” exceeds whatever low expectations can reasonably be placed on it.
Here’s that outlandish plot: Five years ago, superstar pianist Tom Selznick (Wood) choked on the final notes of “the unplayable piece,” leaving his career (and his self-confidence) in limbo. Now, after the death of his long-time mentor, Selznick will return to the stage to play a tribute concert with a full symphony backing him up. But when Tom receives a message from a mysterious man (John Cusack) threatening to kill him and his wife if he doesn’t play every note perfectly (I wouldn’t spoil his admittedly flimsy motive), the pressure mounts. The stakes couldn’t be higher, as Tom literally plays like his life depends on it.
Sure it’s ridiculous, but Elijah Wood is just virtuosic enough to make it enjoyable. He’s a classic screw-up, and no one can play panicky like him. Pigeon-holing at its finest. Unfortunately, his cast mates lay it on thick as they cheese their way through their theatrical performances. It’s almost painful to watch, but thankfully all eyes are on Tom almost the entire time.
If you find the predictable dialogue and student-theater-troupe acting unbearable, sit back and enjoy the hour of beautiful music being faked by Wood and the symphony orchestra. They might not be doing it, but somebody had to. The music is marvelous. So inventive is the film that makes such an important character of its beautiful score.
There’s just something grand about a concise little thriller that you can catch on Netflix, isn’t there?
“Grand Piano” is also on Blu-ray and DVD.