Eugenio Mira | 87 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | Spain & USA / English | 15 / R
Written by Damien “Whiplash” Chazelle, Grand Piano is “Phone Booth with a piano”. Elijah Wood plays a nerve-ridden musical wunderkind about to make his comeback when he receives a phone call ordering him to play an impossible piece of music perfectly or else his loved ones get it. Is he up to the challenge? Can he uncover and defeat his telephonic terroriser whilst also giving a piano performance to a packed house?
Running under 80 minutes before the credits roll, Grand Piano is a brisk thriller that barely has time to be anything less than engrossing. It relies on keeping you entertained with its series of quick reveals, twists, and sequences of tension, rather than meaningful themes or considered characters (though look out for some perhaps-familiar faces in supporting roles nonetheless). Director Eugenio Mira keeps things relatively classy, rather than descending into meaningless shaky-cam antics — this is a movie set at a classical music recital, after all.
The storyline is utterly preposterous, of course, though it amuses me that some people criticise it for that. I mean, it’s a genre picture — no genre picture is not preposterous. The veneer of truth they present varies, but rare is the genre movie that crafts a genuinely plausible version of real life. Die Hard would never, ever happen, but it’s still a great action movie. I’m not claiming Grand Piano is of Die Hard quality, but criticising its plot for being preposterous? It’s not so preposterous that it breaks the ‘rules’ of the thriller genre. Either you’re on board with that, or maybe you shouldn’t watch this kind of movie.
Really, there’s not much more to Grand Piano than its well-made creation of tension and thrills, and so I don’t find myself with much more to say about it. I enjoyed it very much, though.