Essentially a thrilling short story stretched to near breaking point in terms of its running time, Grand Piano marks another stage in the intriguing recent career of Elijah Wood.

From Maniac to Open Windows to current cinema release Set Fire To The Stars, the small one has provided us with some very different fare of late – and that’s fine by us.

Here he plays Tom Selznick, a gifted concert pianist who has shunned the limelight over recent times due to crippling stage fright.

But with his actress wife Emma (Kerry Bishe) hitting the big time, Tom is coaxed out of the shadows for a sell-out comeback concert.

This concert will be even more special, as Tom will be using the oh-so expensive piano belonging to his late mentor, shipped to the venue specifically for the occasion.

The concert begins and everything seems just about OK, until things go all ‘Phone Booth’ when Tom realises both he and his wife are in the sights of a sniper housed in the concert theatre, who informs him (via his musical notes and an ear mic) that unless he plays his pieces note-perfect, they will be shot.

That is essentially it as far as plot goes, and for the first hour this is a high-tempo, genuinely suspenseful piece of work.

Wood is great as the sweating, edgy, troubled Tom, struggling to keep a lid on things even before the added interest of an assassin’s bullet.

It is not giving anything away to say John Cusack plays the villain (he’s billed high in the opening credits) and he does a solid job, sounding as threatening as needed to be at the other end of the mic.

Bishe is fine, producing a performance of equal concern and false smiles that befits her status as a star in the glow of the paparazzi’s lights.

The less said about the other performances the better though, with a truly breathtakingly annoying turn from Tamsin Egerton as one of Emma’s vacuous friends.

The real star here though is director Eugenio Mira, who infuses Grand Piano with a real sense of suspense, as well as rolling out a series of camera flourishes that would have made the likes of Hitchcock or even the old-school Argento proud.

Which makes the fact that the film really runs out of steam in the final third all the more of a shame, as motives are revealed and the whole thing gets a little bit silly.

The build-up is the key here though, and Grand Piano puts enough brownie points in the bank in that you can forgive that final lapse.

DVD Review: Grand Piano
An enjoyable thriller that sags in the closing scenes
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.