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Grand Piano


Stars: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Alex Winter, Allen Leech, Kerry Bishé, Tamsin Egerton, Don McManus, Dee Wallace, Jack Taylor

Director: Eugenio Mira

The Spanish director wrings some suspense from this vastly improbable piece which casts Wood as a youthful piano maestro who returns to concert-hall action after a five-year sabbatical, following a fiasco in which he failed to play an 'impossible' piece called La Cinquette.

Conquering his jangling nerves to step up to the podium again, he is greeted by the words 'Play one wrong note and you die' written in red on the score. Further instructions follow, with the unseen tormentor (Cusack) communicating with Wood by earphone (while he's playing the piano!) and threatening both him and his wife (Bishé) with bullets to the head if the pianist fails.

What's worse, Wood's assistant (Winter, now a thickset heavy and far from the days of Bill and Ted) is in cahoots with the bad guy.

Wood's friend (Leech of Downton Abbeyfame) gets wind of what's going on, but Winter has plans to silence him before he can raise the alarm. Can Wood end his recital with a finger-perfect rendition of La Cinquette? And do we believe any of this?

Wood's fingering of the piano-playing is a marvel and it's also worth sitting through the long end credits to hear some glorious music on the soundtrack. A little surface excitement does survive our general stupefaction, up to a truly ridiculous climax.

For the record, this is yet another film thriller in which the main villain kills his own henchman for no apparent reason.

David Quinlan

Spain/USA 2012. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour by deluxe.
90 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 14 Sep 2014