Movie Reviews

‘Grand Piano’: Not so grand after all

By David LeeMovies - 16 May 2014 8:00 AM | Updated 03 June 2014

‘Grand Piano’: Not so grand after all

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

‘Grand Piano’ is one of those movies, which shows some promise at the beginning but ultimately fizzles towards the end.

Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is a happily married man who adores his singer wife (Kerry Bishe). He is a gifted concert pianist who suffers from stage fright and screwed up his last performance.

When he is given a chance at a comeback performance to pay tribute to his late mentor, Tom discovers a note written on his music sheets – threats to shoot him and his wife, who is the audience, should he miss playing a note on the piano.

The premise recalls those in previous high-stakes thrillers such as ‘Speed’ and ‘Phone Booth’, where the protagonist is trapped in a given space and the only way to survive the ordeal is to outsmart the perpetrator, whom the audience hardly get to see for most of the film.

'Grand Piano' is a thrill ride

So no points for guessing who triumphs in the end, and the movie is mostly a thrill ride, but is it worth 90 minutes of your time?

A NOTE TO HITCHCOCK

The convincing production design and especially the many uninterrupted long takes of the moving camera help to draw the audience into the various spaces of the concert hall, from dressing room to the main stage to the full orchestra to the far end of the circle seats.

This effective staging and technical stunt help to greatly enhance the suspense and action, very much in the tradition of the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, who is also known for such complicated and long camera shots in his films.

Even the plot to emphasise that the lead be mechanically precise in his performance, with no room for human error, is in some ways reminiscent of the perfectionist that Hitchcock was, who once infamously referred to his actors as “cattle” with him directing them to perform in the way he wanted.

B-GRADE SUPPORTING CAST

Wood is effective as Tom, as he progresses from being meek and lacking in confidence to one who eventually confronts and turns the tables on his perpetrators.

Elijah Wood's Selznick goes from victim to someone who take's control of the situation

There are some suspenseful moments, mostly thanks to his layered performance and the audacious craft and staging.

A pity then for the rest of the supporting cast, consisting of largely forgettable stock characters and even irritating ones (yes, some you wish they would be killed) – they seem to come straight out of a Roger Corman trashy B-grade movie.

When the final plot twist is being revealed, the entire motivation for the villain’s actions is wanting and you leave feeling a little cheated.

‘Grand Piano’ is now showing in cinemas

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Grand Piano