By Darin Skaggs
Grand Piano tells the tale of Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood), a nervous wreck and genius pianist. It has been five years since his last performance and that one did not go well. Easy to say he is nervous, but he still begins his performance. About five minutes into playing he sees a message on his music that reads “Play one wrong note and you’ll die.” Confused and even more nervous than before he runs off the stage. Eventually Tom gets an ear piece so he can communicate with the note writer (John Cusack) throughout his performance and some proof is given that this mysterious man is a real threat with his rifle being visibly shot off and the red light pointing at Tom.
This thriller seems like a simple story with not much to it, but surprisingly the film is tense and quite fun. The film is more than just watching Tom, hoping he does not mess up. Other characters catch on to the situation, go off and try to help. There are a few times that Tom leaves the stage to take a break. When the film finishes its point, it does not seem to know how to conclude itself. It really does seem to fall apart in the last twenty minutes of the film and there are surely some tacky scenes, but everything before that is solid filmmaking.
The film is a look upon creators of art whether it be painting, music or films. Tom is glorified as a genius but hasn’t played any pieces presumably because he does not want to fail his fans. This worry could ruin a person and even destroy their relationships, like when the gunman threatens his wife several times. So when the gunman threats to murder unless everything goes perfectly Tom’s darkest fears become a reality. These are artist who only listen to their pickiest fans and don’t see that a good amount of people really do enjoy their work. At one point Tom plays the wrong note, the gunman flips out wondering why he made that decision. He replies saying the only people that know he didn’t do it perfectly are him and the gunman. At this point he finally accepts the majority of the fans will have enough of a good time to not mind or not even notice that he did not make perfect art.
All these themes mix well with the fun tenseness of the thriller, sadly it does not know how to conclude after making all these points. It just becomes a silly action film near the end. Almost ironic that the film messes up the ending much like Tom did with this final performance of the night. All that being said Grand Piano is a lot of fun, not amazing but a solid thriller none the less.