Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is the most talented pianist of his generation, but has stopped performing in public because of his stage fright. Years after a catastrophic performance, he reappears in public for a long awaited concert in Chicago. In a packed theater, in front of an expectant audience, Tom finds a message written on the score: “Play one wrong note and you die.” In the sights of an anonymous sniper (John Cusack), Tom must get through the most difficult performance of his life and look for help without being detected.


“Grand Piano” is a film about performance anxiety and the crippling fear of stage fright. When a talented pianist’s worst nightmares come true, one can feel the Hitchcockian level of suspense return to the cinema. The film does excellent work showcasing two talented actors and the strength of masked performance. Masked performance is something that rarely gets explored in the over-emoting world of American acting. Lee Strasberg really screwed the pooch on that one, but it makes sense.

There’s something to Elijah Wood’s ability to play stressed out characters so well. Most American audiences are too dumb to pick up on subtext, unless you have someone ranting and raving in a way that they can understand. Person is scared onscreen, then they need to get mad and upset. Nuance and subtle moods don’t translate well to a visual medium watched by a wide range of personalities. “Grand Piano” flies in the face of that, but the director is a Spanish national. What can one do? Well, the meeting point is manipulating the tense structure of the thriller to talk about the larger pressures of public performance and expectation.

The Blu-Ray comes with interviews, trailers and featurettes as the special features. The 1080p transfer is so smooth and makes the reds pop. There is a lot of red in this flick. Plus, the DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track helps the ambience to come alive. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 05/20/2014

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