As it so happens, you people who could care
less about this worthless fact, I too was a concert pianist in
a previous life. In fact, after witnessing this odd
thriller 'Grand Piano', I am now interested in reactivating
this lost passion, but I will need a 97 key piano similar to
the one that Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) was playing in this
movie. I just priced a Boesendorfer which starts around
175g. And alas, this passion has been snuffed out before
it even had a chance to re-ignite.
It is the night of the big concert where Tom Selznick will be
playing one of the most notoriously difficult pieces of music
ever written, composed by his late mentor, with this
composition to be played on his late mentor's classic 97-key
grand piano. It's going to be a grand event for Tom,
with the world looking on and his beautiful actress wife Emma
(Kerry Bishe) in the seats to watch her man kill this
piece. There is one small issue as the otherwise
supremely gifted Tom has a reputation of choking when the
composition gets particularly difficult, but with his assigned
assistant (Alex Winter) by his side, there should be no
Ah, yes… but then there's that dude (John Cusack). We
can't see the dude, but we, as well as Tom, can hear the
dude. This cat is somewhere off in the rafters and has
commanded Tom, through some elaborate scheme of events, to put
on an earpiece so he can berate Tom into playing the perfect
concerto. Just in case Tom doubts this guy's passion, he
lets him know that he has a high powered scope rifle trained
on Tom and if he were to play one note wrong… goodbye.
Or maybe he will just kill his wife. Regardless, Tom had
best be on his game.
Obviously, starting out, Tom doesn't believe my man, but then
this dude does a couple of things that makes Tom a genuine
believer that he means business, and now the game is on in
full effect. Admittedly having played a little piano, or
having done anything that requires a little bit of
concentration, it would be way easier for somebody to complete
this task without some lunatic yelling in your ear every two
or three minutes talking about how he is gonna kill you, but I
guess that's why Tom is a professional.
Eventually it's going to get to the point
where Tom and this mysterious fellow are going to have to have
a face to face. This is where we learn that this
gentleman, while certainly a fan of the classics, has a
different interest in Tom playing this piece correctly.
And eventually, the Grand Pianist is going to have to turn
into a grand badass if he's going to see the morning.
Just so you know, he's a way better grand pianist.
A new week, another John Cusack movie. Where does the
man find the time to even sleep? Directed by Eugenio
Mira, yet another young Spanish director since this seems to
be where everyone is going to find their new directing talent,
'Grand Piano', as they say, is better than it has any right to
be. By that I mean that the very premise of 'Grand
Piano' is absurd. It is ridiculous. It is patently
insane. We have a whackjob in the rafters of some
concert hall, with a high powered rifle, with a man on the
ground killing people. He's constantly talking to this
guy, with this concert pianist, in the middle of his own
concert, often running off the stage and abandoning his own
concert. Tom is so great a pianist that not only can he
play the most difficult piece ever committed to onionskin, but
he can do this while some loon is yakking in his ear, pointing
laser dots at his chest, and Tom can play the piano with two
hands AND dial out cell phones and all kinds of crazy
stuff. And by the time we get to our mysterious villains
real reason for needing Tom to play the piece correctly, it
just gets sillier.
But oddly enough, the director kind of makes this thing
work. Here we have a film which largely takes place
watching a guy play the piano, but Mira and his editor… always
have to give it up to the editor… find ways to keep the film
in motion, to keep the tension ratcheted pretty high, and as a
result of this they keep the silliness of the entire exercise
at bay. For the most part. By the time we get to
the end and the big fight in the scaffolding, this film goes
completely batty, but getting there was pretty tight.
Elijah Wood, who pretty much has to carry this entire movie
since the focus is on his character almost from beginning to
end, does a fine job with his overly large sad eyes to convey
the stress that his character is under. Mind you, we
can't understand how this guy could ever choke on a
composition considering how well he handled himself under
these circumstances. John Cusack's voice was effectively
menacing, which is probably how he managed to squeeze this
movie into his busy schedule since he could've done the
majority of this part in an afternoon in a sound booth, and
when he finally does show up in the last fifteen or so
minutes, he makes for a solid villain.
Still, the last act is pretty nutty. I'd like to say the
movie fell apart in the last act, but the truth of the matter
is that 'Grand Piano' was never truly together, so the big
fight and the big reveal just kind of fell in place with the
rest of the lunacy we had seen to this point.
We enjoyed 'Grand Piano', a movie that plays light and loose
with lucidity, but it is so well crafted and well-acted and so
earnest in its presentation, we just kind of got swept away
into its nonsensical world.