Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Elijah Wood, John Cusack,
Don McManus, Kerry Bishe

"Play or Die"

The apparently ageless Elijah Wood plays Tom Selznick, a famous pianist who returns on stage after a prolonged absence. 5 years ago, he developed stage fright and had a mental block thus failing to complete his late mentor's most famous composition piece.

Wracked with nerves for his comeback concert, he finds a note on the musical score sheet which says "Play one wrong note and you die!" He falls victim to a sniper who communicates through an earpiece and demands that he complete the impossibly difficult piece/composition on stage.

This same premise has been done in past movies like "Phone Booth". Both share the idea of a 'victim' being watched by a sniper who forces him to adhere to his demands. Although it is not as claustrophobic as the Colin Farrell starring thriller, "Grand Piano" is still ridiculously far-fetched. But good camera work, a streak of dark humor and some well edited tension filled moments make it watchable. Yet towards the end, the tension fizzles and becomes downright preposterous.

The best part of the film are the musical pieces that Selznick skillfully showcases on stage. It helps that he is played by Elijah Wood whose facial expressions convey many different emotions. He is suitably jittery as he tries to overcome his stage fright as well as try to extricate himself from this unfortunate dilemma.

It is an intriguing concept to bank on yet it fails to deliver as the true motive falls flat and loses its tone.

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