Synopsis: Moments before his comeback performance, a concert pianist who suffers from stage fright discovers a note written on his music sheet.
Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth was a high concept idea that worked over the course of 90 minutes partly because Colin Farrel is a charismatic lead and also because for all it’s silly fun there was a sense that it’s central premise wasn’t out of the realms of possibility. Some 12 years on from Phone Booth, Eugenio Mira tries to recreate the single threat, limited location thriller moving the action, as it is, from a phone booth to a piano concert. The target is Elijah Wood’s troubled piano prodigy making his live comeback after a crippling bout of stage fright a number of years earlier nearly derailed his career. His comeback from semi-retirement is also partly spurred by the death of his mentor, and creator of the piano on which he will play his comeback as tribute.
For reasons initially unknown to Elijah’s ivory tinkler, once he takes the stage he appears to be the target of a sniper (John Cusack) who has developed an elaborate scheme to access a hidden box in the piano which apparantly can only be opened once the world’s most difficult piano piece is played note perfectly. The pressure is on. If Elijah chokes again and drops a note then his pretty movie star wife in the audience will have her head popped like a watermelon.
Grand Piano has some interesting plot devices to keep things interesting at points, such as the interesting use of a mobile phone hidden amongst sheet music and certainly for anyone with a mild interest in piano music there are some lovely musical moments. But the central plot is so flawed it becomes a distraction. If the box is within the piano then why not just hijack the truck carrying the piano to the event, take it to a lock up and smash it open. It’s made of wood!! It’s not that hard. Certainly easier than setting up an overly elaborate sniper plan. Now I’m not saying that is a better movie. All I’m saying is if you’re going to make an antagonist goto extreme lengths to achieve something that can seemingly been done much more easily, then you gotta explain why.
Conclusion: Grand Piano’s central premise of being Phone Booth in a tuxedo works well as a script pitch but unfortunately the conceit doesn’t carry over 90 minutes
Cast: Elijah Wood, John Cusack