Remind me to never be a brilliant concert pianist. Not that there is any danger of that happening. Grand Piano is a movie that came in under the radar and almost slipped by me. It wasn’t until my monthly scouring of Rotten Tomatoes that I noticed it was released on DVD this week with a score of 81%. This is an impressive score for the Rotten Tomatoes critics to be sure. Was I disappointed? I’m glad to say no, I was not.
The premise of this movie is simple. Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is a world renown concert pianist with stage fright due to a major failure five years ago at a big concert. After the recent death of his mentor he decides to play one last concert in honor of his teacher using his teacher’s own piano. It is this one concert hall that remains the backdrop of the entire film. As the concert begins we see Wood, accompanied by a full orchestra, settling into his role convincingly. As the pages turn we see in giant red sharpie he sees “Miss one note and die” and the tension begins. If Selznick didn’t have a reason to fear before he does from now on. As the pages turn so do the instructions, and he ends up with an earpiece at intermission in his ear and a sniper rifle aimed at his head with Clem (John Cusack) on the other side. What follows is an improbable though tension filled cat and mouse game that held my focus until the very end.
This movie reminded me why I always used to listen to Classical Public radio.
The arrangements and pieces played in this movie are beautiful and complex, and act as a perfect soundtrack to the tension as Selznick struggles to remain composed during these life-altering conversations.
I was very surprised by Grand Piano. It’s not a movie I would normally have watched, but I took a chance and it paid off. If you’re a fan of old-style Hitchcockian cinema, great cinematography, and tension filled dialogue and music, Grand Piano is a must. Now excuse me, I have to go listen to the classical station on Pandora.