MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Grand Piano’

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Film: Grand Piano
Starring: Elijah Wood
Directed by: Eugenio Mira

Hollywood has a long history of using unseen assailants to propel a storyline forward. The results of these efforts have been mixed throughout time. Some films play like ticking time bombs, slowly forcing the audience to slip ever-so-slightly toward the edge of their seats, others come off as half-assed attempts at building tension in situations where it otherwise does not exist. Grand Piano uses this formula to further emphasize an already tense situation, but the results leave a bit too much to be desired.

Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, a concert pianist who discovers a note written onto his sheet music moments before a major comeback performance. The message informs Tom that if he plays the wrong note at any point in the night someone will die. Tom is scared, but skeptical, and then he notices the red light of a laser sight making its way across the keys.

When the opportunity to step off stage presents itself, Tom quickly makes his way to his dressing room to assess the situation. Once there, he discovers that someone has left him an ear piece that offers two-way communication with the sniper seated somewhere in the crowd. Tom pleads for the insanity to end, but the sniper is after something very specific, and he will not stop until Tom finishes the show.

Several years before the Grand Piano begins, Tom is a famous pianist whose career comes to a halt after Tom is overcome by stage fright one night mid-performance. The concert at the center of this film is meant to mark his return to the stage, but as you can probably imagine things do not go as smoothly as he hopes. His travel plans are a mess, his wife is distant, and he’s still overcoming the recent loss of his mentor, Patrick, whose piano he’s using for this very performance. All of these stresses come crashing together through the deranged demands and threats of the man controlling Tom’s actions, and the weight of it all might just be too much for one man to take.

Grand Piano is not as much an original idea as it is a combination of different thriller genre cliches thrown together with a dash of appreciation for classical music. This is a perfectly fine formula and the performances are commendable across the board, but the film fails to find ways to make the genre its own. Avenues for originality appear multiple times throughout Tom’s battle with the man in the crowd, but the film rarely takes advantage of the opportunity to stand out and instead runs a course that has been well-formulated over the past several decades.

There is a lot to love about Grand Piano, but very little to set it apart from the long line of genre films that influenced its creation. With a little more focus on the mysteries surrounding the evening things may have played out far better, but as is you’re left with that awful feeling that it’s simply not as good as could have been.

Score: B-

Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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