"Suspenseful Backstage Thriller"
What You Need To Know:
Both the mystery in GRAND PIANO and the payoffs for it are clever and great fun to watch. The director builds up pretty good tension throughout the movie. That said, the movie’s positive moral elements could be stronger. There’s also brief, strong foul language, including several “f” words and a couple strong profanities. The foul language and weaker-than-necessary moral points warrant strong or extreme caution for GRAND PIANO.
(Pa, B, LL, VV, M) Light mixed pagan worldview with some moral elements as killer after hidden treasure threatens piano player and his wife, but movie never reveals what the treasure is; 11 obscenities and profanities (including five “f” words); strong but minimal violence such as man is shown from a distance being choked to death, woman has knife at her throat and later is found dead with some blood on throat, sniper villain threatens to murder man and his wife, and a climactic fight; no sex; no nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and, villain’s henchman stalks and secretly spies on man and his wife, and it’s implied that the hidden treasure involves lots of money in some way, perhaps stolen in some way or an attempt at stealing the hidden treasure.
GRAND PIANO is a highly entertaining thriller about a fearful concert pianist who must overcome his insecurity in playing his most complex piece ever or risk having himself and his wife killed by a sniper. GRAND PIANO has a mixed worldview with some moral elements and brief foul language.
Elijah Wood stars as Tom Selznick, a world-class concert pianist who suffered a meltdown on stage a few years before and is now about to make his comeback attempt with the same difficult piece. What Tom doesn’t realize is that a mysterious person named Clem (John Cusack) has written a death threat to him in the pages of the music notes. The threat says that, if Tom doesn’t play the song exactly right in every way, he or his wife (who’s in the balcony) will be killed.
Thus begins a clever, edge-of-your-seat mindgame where Tom has to deal with three tracks of fear: his own self-doubt, the threat to his wife and himself, and playing well before a crowd of thousands. During intermission and other momentary breaks in his performance, Tom has to sneak off stage and around the premises of the concert hall to try to decipher clues about who is doing all this to him and why.
GRAND PIANO is reminiscent of Hitchcock. Both the mystery in GRAND PIANO and the payoffs for it are clever and great fun to watch. Added to that is the fact that Tom has to be back in his seat, playing precise keys at precise moments to keep the music and his life going. In this way, Director Eugenio Mira manages to keep the suspense in GRAND PIANO at an unbelievable level. He also provides an extremely good-looking film where his two male stars, Elijah Wood and John Cusack, are live-wired with tension.
Of course, if viewers really think deeply about GRAND PIANO, it could become almost laughable in its logic. How anyone could keep up with an extremely fast and complex piano arrangement while also knowing they could die the second they play a note wrong is almost ludicrous. This is particularly true when Wood slides into his seat at the keys after dashing through hallways.
Yet, GRAND PIANO still works really well. Also, everything is done with a great deal of class. The problem is, the movie’s moral elements could be stronger. For instance, it’s never revealed what exactly the hidden treasure is, and the fate of the treasure is left up in the air. So, for the most part, the protagonist and his wife are only working to save themselves and each other. Also, it’s left up in the air whether the hero might take the treasure for himself. Finally, GRAND PIANO has some strong and gratuitous, but brief, foul language, including several “f” words. Apparently, this is the main reason for the movie’s R rating. So, it makes one wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just eliminate the strong foul language to get a PG-13, or even a PG, rating and reach a wider audience. Whatever the case, the foul language and weaker-than-necessary moral points warrant strong or extreme caution.