March 4, 2014
Tom Selznick is an acclaimed concert pianist. However, after messing up a key performance, he withdrew from the public eye. He agreed to perform again at a concert-tribute to his departed mentor. But as he began to play, he noted a threat written on his sheet music. He should play perfectly to the note, or his wife will die.
Elijah Wood plays Tom with his trademark wide-eyed style of acting. This film is practically a one-man show for Wood as all the focus was on him as he played for his wife's life while trying to psych out his unseen adversary. The constant look of fear on his face made this film work. For a non-piano player like myself, Wood's piano playing looked wonderfully realistic.
The villain was played by John Cusack, whom we only hear for the most part as his chilling voice dictated what his captive should do. Cusack succeeds to convey that sinister feel by his vocal inflections alone. We only see his face for a brief while towards the end which was honestly a bit anti-climactic.
The glamorous Kelly Bishe plays Tom's wife Emma, a celebrated actress who organized Tom's comeback event. Too bad, there really was not much for her to do here. I have to say though that I loved her haunting vocal solo (if that was actually her singing).
Actually the whole situation was impossible. While Tom was passionately playing complicated pieces, he was in constant communication with his hostage-taker via an earpiece. During certain movements in the concerto, Tom was actually able to run off the stage to go to the dressing room to investigate. He can even text while playing piano!
I don't really know what kind of superhuman ability Tom has to keep on playing perfectly while all of this stressful things were swirling around him, including seeing dead bodies on the catwalk above. If you are able to suspend your disbelief in the incredibly improbable flow of events unfolding on the screen, you will get drawn into the excitement and tension of it all.
This film is not very long, only an hour and twenty minutes. The whole situation was bordering on the absurd, yet the way director Eugenio Mira staged it, urgent suspense still prevailed. The cinematography was lush with rich colors. The editing was well done to heighten the dynamics. The piano music was otherworldly in its beauty and sweep.
I enjoyed it. The middle section really had me on the edge of my seat. The concluding act was rather over-the-top, but overall this was a neat thriller that is worth to check out. 6/10.