Review: Grand Piano

Grand Piano is a thriller about the limits of a pianist’s capabilities, especially when faced with a threat to his life – a threat that won’t be carried out unless he completes his career-reviving performance without a fault.

We first meet Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) on a plane. He is enroute to Chicago, where he will be playing at a concert, backed by a full orchestra. The concert has been organized by his famous wife (Kerry Bishé), who is eager for him to return to the scene after a meltdown onstage five years ago failing to play the ‘unplayable piece’, “La Cinquette”.


Tom’s lack of conviction and shortcomings are seen in the people around him –the media, production crew and even his conductor at the concert all questioning the legitimacy of his comeback. In fact, the phrase “break a leg” feels particularly overused, and to a detrimental effect.

While playing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No.4” on a Bösendorfer piano, Tom receives an ominous threat with a laser beam trained on him. He learns that he has to play without making a single mistake, or he and his wife will be shot.

The “voice of God” in his in-ear monitor taunts, but encourages Tom while he plays, sending him into a state of emotional warfare for the rest of the movie, climaxing in Tom playing the last four bars with his life on the line.

Director Eugenio Mira filmed the anatomy of a piano in painstaking detail, much to the delight of music fans and purists. Another part of the film that might go unnoticed, or worse unappreciated, is the opening credits which fade into musical symbols.


Besides its careful consideration for details, the cinematography here is stunning with an exquisite piano set against dramatic curtains in a darkened hall, espousing the notes (pun intended) of a B-grade thriller.

However, the lack of attention to major plot developments leaves viewers hanging especially with the loopholes in the plot and a much convoluted ending.

For a movie whose premise is the performing arts and revolves around one of the most famous musical instruments, less finesse and a little more force could have ensured Grand Piano hitting all the right notes.

Rating: 3/5

Release Date: 15/05/14

Runtime: 90 minutes

Language: English

Censorship Rating: PG13

Genre: Thriller, mystery, crime

Director: Eugenio Mira

Cast: Elijah Wood, Kerry Bishe, Don McManus and John Cusack