Saturday, 12 November 2016

Grand Piano

“Play one wrong note; and you die!” GRAND PIANO (2013) is almost pure Hitchcockian terror with a heist plot unfolding in the middle of an orchestral concert. Musician Tom (Elijah Wood) returns to the spotlight, after five years away from the stage, and is forced to perform ‘unplayable’ piece, ‘La Cinquette’; something that he failed to finish before in public. At the keys of his legendary, recently deceased, mentor’s Bösendorfer, Tom’s heroism is splaying his fingers to play like a demon, because Tom’s wife is in the audience and her life - threatened by a sniper - depends upon him.

In part, this is a dramatic movie about overcoming stage fright, and compromising the unattainable aims of perfectionism. But musical artistry is secondary to the driving rhythm of a heist thriller (musical notes unlock a safe). John Cusack does his familiar cool-killer act. Alex Winter (of Bill & Ted fame) is fine as the efficient henchman. Eugenio Mira directs this with tremendous suspense and tension, injecting levity - if not actual comedy - into several moments with impressive skill. Previously, Mira made stylised Spanish mystery Agnosia, but this marks his Hollywood debut, and Grand Piano’s a significant improvement, especially in terms of narrative coherence, even if it is every bit as far-fetched!

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