"If you miss a note, you're dead."
Not only does Grand Piano miss a note, it misses on nearly every note beginning with a very laughable plot and some pretty bad performances. Directed by Spanish composer Eugenio Mira (Agnosia and The Birthday) and written by Damien Chazelle (who recently won at Sundance for his direction in Whiplash), Grand Piano is a thriller that has a Phone Booth vibe to it by centering the action in a single location. The problem I had with this film is that I never felt the tension or the suspense because I never believed these were real characters or believable situations. I am on the minority here because a lot of critics were impressed with the De Palma like style of the film, but I found the entire action and suspense scenes completely ridiculous. John Cusack is no Kiefer Sutherland and his voice work here didn't impress me at all. The script also explains everything to the audience so shamefully like if we were stupid and needed everything to be spelled out for us in order to understand. I can't believe the hype this film has been getting because I found it to be the first truly bad film of 2014. Despite some nice camera work and style, there is nothing else to recommend here.
Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is a very talented concert pianist who has kept away from the spotlight for more than five years after having messed up during an important presentation. He was playing one of his mentor's compositions which only he and his mentor were considered talented enough to play. However after his failure he decided to retire, but now has accepted to come back and face his stage fright in honor of his mentor who has passed away. He is accompanied by his wife, Emma (Kerry Bishe), a famous actress who also has an angelic voice. Once the concert begins, he discovers a strange note on his music sheet threatening his life. If he messes up a note he and his beautiful wife will be killed. Tom discovers that Clem (John Cusack) is the man threatening him with a sniper rifle aimed at him while he is given instructions by him through an ear piece. All he can do is keep on playing and try not to mess up a single note.
Grand Piano at least has a good musical score, but every time Mira tried to build the tension I couldn't believe how ridiculous the premise was. I wasn't a fan of Elijah Wood's wooden performance either and didn't find any redeeming performance from the entire cast. The climax at the end was also extremely laughable, the facial expressions were completely over the top. The films is extremely short as well, if you don't include the long credits the running time is less than 80 minutes. This might have been an interesting idea for a short film, but at 80 minutes it felt extremely long.