In the tradition of two other similar thrillers, Phone Booth and Liberty Stands Still, director Eugenio Mira’s first big budget release is a thriller, mystery, and well-acted and relatively believable movie full of twists, turns, and some top-notch acting. Grand Piano successfully meets hardcore instrumental music fans and those who know nothing on the subject halfway, producing an excellent vehicle that shows off lead actor Elijah (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Maniac) Wood’s lesser-known talent, his ability to play the piano. Quite well, actually. And apparently under extreme amounts of duress.
The plot is beautiful in its simplicity, counting on several well-placed thrills and the acting abilities of both Wood and the film’s villains, played wonderfully by John (1408, The Raven) Cusack and Alex (the Bill & Ted series, The Lost Boys) Winter. Additional star power is brought in the form of Kerry (Argo, Red State) Bishe, playing the main character’s Hollywood wife. So what starts out as a dramatic piece focusing on the comeback of a formerly disgraced concert pianist after the passing of his beloved mentor, becomes a hostage situation that only intensifies as the movie goes on. Everything culminates in an exciting (albeit slightly predictable) finale. But just like its setting, the true mood and feeling of the whole story is overshadowed by the vast elegance of the performance and the audience.
Sometimes subtlety can lead to greatness, but in this particular instance, it comes off as somewhat dull in parts. The boredom can be overlooked and overcome by having a little patience, and even though the third act is quite literally where all of the action takes place, it still seems to all happen a little too fast. Perhaps that is the restraint that the screenwriter put on the film by grounding it as closely in realism as possible. But fans of Wood and especially Cusack will not be disappointed in their performances. It would have been interesting to see a larger budget and perhaps a more seasoned director take charge of what could have been a great film, but ended up only being a good one instead.