Grand Piano - 6 stars out of 10
Lovers of classical music will really latch on to “Grand Piano,” not because of its incredibly far-fetched plot, but because of the sheer power of the musical score that drives the film from start to finish. From the opening notes of the concert, this worst-nightmare story unfolds in real time. As a musician, I can appreciate the portrayal of stress that performers endure and this film captures that blend of stress and adrenaline… while adding in the factor of a sniper rifle focused on your hands. Elijah Wood expertly fakes the piano playing. As a pianist, I am hypercritical of on-screen pianists accurately hitting the keys (even Bugs Bunny), and there were only a few times that I disagreed with the editing (which is amazing in a film with so many extensive piano playing sequences). While Wood is not a professional pianist, he is musical enough to make his performance convincing. John Cusack’s voice adds to this film’s feast for the ears. The story is a well-developed equation, strategically interjecting dialogue and action into this real-time concert. This complex equation is strung together by a carefully constructed musical score composed by Victor Reyes. While the score drives the storyline, it also creates the emotions of fear, calm, and desperation at strategic moments of the plot while sustaining the integrity of the music. This may be one of the most effective film scores I’ve experienced due to its absolute importance throughout this thriller. While the plot is over the top and there is some excess cheesiness toward the ending, “Grand Piano” has a Hitchcockian pulse that turns us into thelpless pianist who must unravel this mystery amidst the most important performance of our lives.