Review: Grand Piano
This year’s Fantastic Fest had some incredible entries. From thrillers to horror films to documentaries, it was pretty much the best time one could have in the dark aside from…well, you know. This was my first time there, and will be an ongoing tradition from this year on. I loved every God damn second of it, and I was heavy-hearted to see it end.
We saw an impressive eleven films in four days, and yet we barely scratched the surface. There were so many films and, sadly, so little time.
The best film of those eleven was inarguably Grand Piano. The film stars Elijah Wood in a career turning performance as a famed pianist being terrorized onstage during the night of his much-anticipated comeback. Frodo no more, this is the role that’s going to put Wood back on the marquee. Thankfully, though, he might be too cool for crappy mega-mainstream films. He was at Fantastic Fest not only looking stylish, but just hanging with fans and drinking beer like he was one of us. Because really, I think he is one of us – a movie lover through and through. he even got tattooed at the closing party! I have a newfound love for this guy.
The plot of Grand Piano centers on the story of said pianist and an unnamed/no face villain threatening the star’s life with a sharp shooter rifle, as well as that of his wife’s, a very famous actress in attendance. The threats begin the moment he’s onstage via an elaborate string of communications, and spins into a crescendo as the performance reaches its climax. It plays out like the best of Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma combined, a touch of the giallo, and a heaping dash of modernity. An exciting breath of fresh air for a high concept, real-time thriller that, 1) can find funding, and 2) can be executed almost flawlessly. The musical scenes will become something of legend, mark my words.
The movie’s director, Eugenio Mira, has otherwise dabbled in only b-movie land. Well, no longer. He proves here he has the chops to make a class-A film, and better than some of his contemporaries out there getting paid the big bucks. He puts some of those guys to shame, actually. The film is directed so tightly it barely slows down for a breath before the next turn rips you around the corner. Be warned, cinematic whiplash will occur, and you’ll love every minute.
What sounded like an impossible, or impossibly bad, concept turned out to be a nail-biting rush unlike any of recent years. This is what going to the movies is all about. I was thrilled, amused, entertained, and wowed over and over again.
I give it Five Devil Heads.
We love you Fantastic Fest.
We love Alamo Drafthouse.
We love you Austin.