DVD REVIEW: GRAND PIANO / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: EUGENIO MIRA / SCREENPLAY: DAMIEN CHAZELLE / STARRING: ELIJAH WOOD, JOHN CUSACK, KERRY BISHÉ, ALEX WINTER, DON MCMANUS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 20TH
After waiting for a UK release for an age, Grand Piano is finally available on DVD. The premise of Mira’s film may sound a little odd and non-engaging, but the film works surprisingly well. Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, the best pianist of his generation but somebody who has been retired for 5 years after “choking” when it came to playing a near-unplayable piece. With his mentor dead, Selznick agrees to return to play for a tribute show of shorts. With the press and loved ones worried that he may bottle it, the pressure is firmly on. Once at the piano, it’s soon revealed that a lunatic (Cusack) has his sniper set on Selznick and wife Emma (Bishé). His threat? If Tom fudges one note during the performance, his wife gets a bullet between the eyes.
Despite a plot that may seem a little stretched to some, Grand Piano delivers an engulfing story that will grab hold of your attention a lot more than you may have bargained for. Away from the initial, basic description as told above, the film is cleverly put together and answers any obvious questions – like why not alert somebody to the lunatic sniper in the gantry – that may crop up along the way. Yes, some of the logic may still be a tad questionable, but Mira’s movie does just enough to remain on track with its actions and narrative. And don’t be afraid that the film will just be 90 minutes of Elijah Wood sat at a piano, as there is a lot more going on and Mira does his best to mix up the action and keep the viewer on their toes.
In terms of stars, the key performers here are Elijah Wood and the fantastic musical arrangement by Victor Reyes, all intricately crafted together by Mira. Wood does well at the centre of the tale, having a likeable charm to his on-the-edge pianist while he never overplays the role. As for the music, it is in itself a character in the story. Given the nature of the film, there is much time where the only audio is the music, giving the film almost a silent movie charm at times. Added to this, the music being played throughout the film is often matched to what is happening on screen, adding a sense of drama and tension to Grand Piano.
At its core, Grand Piano is a tense, suspense-filled thriller with an element of the underdog about it. As the story unravels and we find out the real reasoning behind what is going on – sadly with Cusack only physically on screen for no more than 10 minutes – it adds a nice twist element to the tale. Whilst it isn’t particularly ground-breaking, Grand Piano is a welcome change of pace, with its traditional values of tension and the pacing of the story, in a genre that is often littered with fast-moving, overcooked disappointments.
Special Feature: None
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