The movie Grand Piano isn’t without its merits. The direction by Eugenio Mira, and the always lovely performance by Elijah Wood are chief among this movie’s positive attributes. Other than that, this movie and the entire conceit of a thriller taking place during a piano concert is absurd. Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Grand Piano had an “utterly preposterous plot. And, it does.
If you know anything about piano concerts then you know (because you are all smart well informed people in regards to classical concert etiquette) that a pianist would never take the stage with a folder full of sheet music. A pianist that needs his music so that he or she can perform a concerto is not a pianist who would be an impressive virtuoso. Yet Elijah Wood’s character, is a kind of rock star pianist, who is described as having the most increible talent in the world. (There is some description by another character that he has supple or lithe fingers but I can’t remember the exact wording. Yes, I should have taken notes of during the viewing of this film so that I could give you exact quotes. I apologize.) Whatever the exact wording, Wood’s character, Neil Selznick, is, as we are supposed to believe, amazing at the piano. There is some sort of vague back story about Selznicks’s teacher who died, had a fortune, and his surviving family is upset. Let me stress that it is vague. But, we know Selznick is disturbed and it is due to the fiasco that happened during his last concert. This present concert is set to be his comeback until he opens his folder of music on stage and reads a a handwritten note that says Selznick will be killed if he misses one note! Yes. Suddenly the stakes get higher. (The movie could be seen as a performer’s stage anxiety, the combat between the Ego and the Id, or a performer’s fear of audience. But, the plot doesn’t care off these interpretations very well.) What happens after this is not quite thrilling, scary, or even interesting.
Mira uses every dramatic camera technique available that infuses the silly story with a welcomed urgency. Elijah Wood, who has one of the most beautiful faces ever see on camera, is charming but, he can’t save this movie, and I love Elijah Wood. I love movies about music. I even enjoy thrillers. I wanted to like this movie. But, I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of these people. Selznick’s wife is in the audience, a beautiful and famous actress (of course as being beautiful and famous is the only combination when describing an actress) is threatened at one point and then sings at the end accompanied by the orchestra. The actor who plays the boring Irish communist in Downton Abby is also in the movie but the point he ultimately serves is to add some more horror to this movie. It doesn’t work. This movie doesn’t work.