This is going to be a shorter review than normal. However, I caught Grand Piano on in demand last night and wanted to share a few thoughts.
Grand Piano works on the level of sheer tour de force cinematography and nail-biting tension. The plot is somewhat absurd, and the twists that follow are even more so, but the performances are great, and the use of the camera is stunning. Think Brian De Palma meets Argento at his most frenetic, and you have an idea of the mise en scene at work here. Elijah Wood plays a masterful pianist returning to the stage after a lengthy absence following a breakdown while trying to perform a notoriously difficult piece. Already a jagged bundle of nerves, he is sent over the edge by a message in his sheet music as he begins to perform, telling him that he will die if he misses a note in tonight’s performance.
Grand Piano is insanely tense, yet it is playful at the same time. You will be on the edge of your seat, but you will be enjoying yourself as well. As the plot plays out, there are moments so absurd that I could not help but smile, and yet somehow I never lost the intense suspense at work here. Wood’s performance is excellent, but for me the camera was the star of the show; swooping and gliding and for a stellar moment even split-screening its way into my psyche. Yes this is in many ways a case of style over substance, but when the style is this much fun I won’t complain.