When a simple concept thriller is executed really well, there’s no telling how much tension can be produced. While many recent attempts at such a film have failed, such as “ATM” and “Frozen” (not the animated one), there are still filmmakers willing to take the risk of putting their film in one location for almost the entire duration and letting the twists and turns take hold of the audience. The latest film to take a stab at this oft-tried structure, “Grand Piano,” involves a pianist, Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood), who is returning to the stage several years after a concert that didn’t go so well. Since then, he has developed immense stage fright, but at long last, his wife Emma (Kerry Bishe) has convinced him to play a tribute to his deceased teacher. During the concert, he notices a note on his score that tells him that if he plays one wrong note, he’ll die. He eventually discovers that there is someone in the concert hall with a gun, threatening to kill him and his wife should he not do exactly as instructed. He may have been nervous before, but this takes things to another level.
It may have been more than a decade since the last really successful film of this type (“Phone Booth”), but “Grand Piano” ends up succeeding in more places than it doesn’t. It builds tension very well, even from the beginning. We know Tom really doesn’t want to be on that stage due to what happened at his last concert several years ago, so right away, the audience is able to share in that feeling of apprehension with him. However, when the surprise element of a life-threatening situation occurs, the thrills only continue to build. It’s true that the story does have a number of holes in it, including a few in the plot that develops when Tom finds out the reason behind his predicament, but what transpires is riveting enough to the point where they don’t really becomes bothersome as you wait to see how the situation resolves. When a film like this is able to hold you in your chair as you anticipate what could possibly happen next, then the filmmakers have done their job correctly.
“Grand Piano” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that has very little fuzz to it. For the most part, the picture is sharp and clear, delivering an image that is perfectly watchable throughout the entire presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is beautifully presented. Given that a large part of the film is the music, it’s great to see that it was given such amazing treatment. In addition, dialogue is mixed in at perfect levels so as not to be overpowered by the almost-constant music. Overall, both areas provide a great experience with no major problems to report.
The following extras are included on the disc:
The Making of Grand Piano
AXS TV: A Look at Grand Piano
For the most part, this is a collection of featurettes that takes you behind the scenes of the making of the film, which includes interviews with the cast and crew. They discuss all of the film’s major elements, including the music, effects, and how some of the actors trained for their parts. The only one of these that’s not worth watching, as usual, is the AXS TV featurette, which is just a three-minute look at the film that includes clips and snippets of the interviews that are already included as a separate extra. The rest are very much worth seeing as they are very informative and intriguing.
“Grand Piano” may be a bit silly at times, but the thrills it produces are enough to overcome its weaknesses. It’s rare for a film like this to succeed nowadays, mainly because filmmakers don’t think such a film all the way through, leaving plenty of room for those stuck in the perilous situation to escape. As mentioned earlier, “Grand Piano” is not airtight, but it does present a compelling scenario from which there is no easy escape, and for that, it’s definitely worth the 90 tension-filled minutes.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Her, Orange is the New Black: Season One, I, Frankenstein, Final Exam, Evilspeak, Star Trek: Enterprise - Season Four, The Legend of Hercules, Dead Shadows, Sorcerer, Copperhead, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Best of Bogart Collection, Beneath, American Hustle, Kill Your Darlings, The Slumber Party Massacre, Inside Llewyn Davis, In Fear, Oldboy (2013), Cold Comes the Night, Gravity
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