Disposable Entertainment, a Not-so-Thrilling Thriller
Watching GRAND PIANO is a lot like having a nice salad for lunch. It's not a bad experience and you might even enjoy it at the time, but you'll probably look back on it later and sigh, wishing you would've gone with something more satisfying. I will not go so far as to say it's a bad movie. It's visually beautiful and it's got some talented people involved. My problem is that's is just disposable entertainment. There's nothing particularly awesome about any of it and, as a result, it's the type of movie that will easily be forgotten soon after watching it. It stars Elijah Wood as Tom Selznick, a modern master pianist who disappeared from the spotlight five years earlier when he fumbled at the end of a performance while playing his mentor's masterpiece, dubbed the "Impossible Piece". Since then he's suffered a bout of stage fright that has all but ended his career .until now. His beautiful wife and world famous actress, Emma (Kerry Bishé), has organized a comeback performance and it's sold out with an eager crowd of 4000 waiting to see him return to the stage. As he settles in front of his mentor's personal piano (flown in special for the event), he opens his sheet music to find an ominous message scribbled inside: "Play one wrong note and you'll die." He will spend the rest of the evening attempting to unravel the mystery behind the threat while giving the performance of his life. A performance that, if he's unable to resolve his dilemma, will be his last.
It's not as interesting as it sounds. I love the idea of movies set in a confined location where it tends to focus more on the interaction between the hero and the villain. I still love PHONE BOOTH. Well, this movie gave the appearance of being PHONE BOOTH, but with a piano. It's nowhere near as good. Once we start to learn the details behind the threat on Selznick, it becomes a little absurd. The premise behind PHONE BOOTH was more interesting. A sociopath follows the life of someone they find despicable and eventually corners them in a situation when he's got a sniper rifle trained on them and forces them to confront the pain they inflict on others. The villain in GRAND PIANO is lame. His motivations are lame. His plan is lame. He is lame. John Cusack needs to have a chat with his agent about booking movies like this. GRAND PIANO wants to be more intelligent than it is. It seems to believe that classing the movie up with a bunch of rich people in a black tie event with a full orchestra and a focus on classical music will make people overlook the fact that the motivations (and execution) of the plot are just dumb. But, if you know where to look, there are signs that you're being duped. When you realize Alex Winter (yes, Bill S. Preston, Esq. of BILL & TED fame) is the villain's assistant, it dawns on you.
GRAND PIANO might be dumb but it's not garbage. It's got a beautiful visual style, courtesy of cinematographer Unax Mendía and production designer Javier Alvariño. The sets are gorgeous and it's made even more impressive if you watch the behind- the-scenes materials and discover that most of the theater and crowd in which the movie is set is computer-generated. Now that's impressive. Not once did I question it and assumed they had just scored an incredible shooting location. It's absolutely seamless and it's very beautiful. Elijah Wood is passable as the film's lead character but there's not much for him here. I've got to give him props though, because the actual scenes of him playing the piano look legit. Any training he received for the film was put to good use. I guess the movie's entertaining enough. I doubt you'll be bored. I think it's stupid that the movie builds and builds the tension as Selznick struggles to alert someone to his situation without getting himself or his wife killed but then the movie resolves with a clichéd man-to-man fist-fight in a clichéd spot. Its as if the writer had an interesting idea for a premise but just wasn't sure how to end it. So he just opened his big book of movie tropes and picked one that fit. Oh well. You'll watch it. You might enjoy it at the time. But don't expect to remember much about it if you're trying to recall it to a friend a week or so later.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this