Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Grand Piano

Grand Piano
Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Lee Daniels 

Rated: R for some language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 7, 2014 Released by: Magnolia Pictures

Elijah Wood (know of late for his small-screen work on Wilfred) and John Cusack (Frozen Ground, Lee Daniels' The Butler) headline this small-scale nail-biter that owes some gratitude to Alfred Hitchcock and Brian DePalma.

Grand Piano (a Spanish production helmed rather impressively by Eugenio Mara) often hits the right notes of high anxiety in a psychological/homicidal thriller if a bit nagging from Wood's stage-fright stricken celebrated pianist Tom Selznick hoping for a comeback at Chicago concert hall.

Tom doesn't have much time to chill before the important event having to change into the tuxedo in the limousine sent to pick him up at the airport. His weary condition is exacerbated to alarm after finding a note in red while turning the score ("play one wrong note and you will be shot"). He listens to instructions from his earpiece from an unknown assailant who has his lovely, dignitary actress wife Emma (Kerry Bishe) in his sights on the balcony.

So, there are plenty of jibes from Cusack's mysterious (off-screen) antagonist, Clem, who could be a cousin of the villain in "Phone Booth" which shares a similarity in the setup and essentially heightens Wood's deft investment into the role which makes good use of his eerie visage. You see the trouble a terrified Tom will have executing this concerto as the original classical music (composed by Victor Reyes) will definitely resonate with many audiophiles.

What is essentially a two-handler like the scenario staged by Joel Schumacher featuring Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland in the Big Apple's Time Square area can be considered a shadowy, slick clone of some of the haunting masterworks of the aforementioned iconic auteurs. Some noticeable support comes from Alex Winter as a prominent security figure and Tamsin Egerton having fun as Ashley, Emma's floozy of a disgruntled friend because of the less than first-class seating offered to her. While Grand Piano hangs on a delicate narrative thread (a long-shot of the script by Damien Chazelle that it is) that ultimately won't be validated on an explanation, the music and a rangy Wood make it  just enough of a juicy edge-of-your seat entertainment.

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Grand Piano        B                     B 

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