Friday, September 18, 2020

God of the Piano Review: A Subtle Aria That Crescendos To A Fortissimo Finale

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 80 minutes
Starring: Naama Preis, Andy Levi, Ze'ev Shimshoni

For Anat (Preis), music is everything. She is a promising pianist, but is not able to match the accomplishments of her famous musical father.  Having never been able to reach her father's musical standards, she rests her hopes on the child she's about to have.  When the baby is born deaf, Anat succumbs to extreme measures to keep the dream alive.

God of the Piano is a subtle, slow burning film that starts with a bang and then builds back up again.  The first choices that Anat make really showcase the lengths she will go to succeed and start the movie off with a very dramatic moment.  And when Idan (Levi) begins to show some musical promise, there are some really amazing piano moments that are highlighted.  I really liked Idan's natural talent and effortless musical ability, as well as some of the ideas that his youth brought.  There is a wonderful scene where his young views on music and youthful flair clash with some older ideas of composition.  It is a great little push and pull and one that I wish had been explored more.  The film also has a tough story about choice and the consequences that can stem from that.  There are a lot of choices in this film, and many of them have very real effects on Anat and those around her.  And director Itay Tai has a subtle, understated style that really shines through in this film.  There isn't a lot of excess drama and the film feels carefully crafted.  It is beautifully crafted some subtle shots that help to highlight what is being shown.  But that being said, the story definitely crescendos as Anat's many choices begin to weigh on her, and the consequences of those choices come full circle.

However, one problem that I had with God of the Piano is that Anat is not a very likable character and her struggles to raise a musically inclined child did not hit me with the amount of emotional drama that I think they were supposed to.  It is a natural parental instinct to want your children to do better than you and succeed where you might have failed, but this film did not really frame that struggle for me.  Now the lengths that Anat goes for her son, and her son's clear musical talent, are well documented in the film and definitely show you what she would do to succeed.  But the overall struggle just did not resonate with me because it didn't feel like enough groundwork was laid.  I wish there was a little more on her own musical struggles, the disappointment that she had, or something to show why she is so in need of musical adoration.  And maybe that is just how Tai builds his films, I can't have a wonderfully subtle film and hope for explicit points.  There are several mentions of Anat not living up to her father's examples, and some subtle examples of her musical limitations, but I just wish that more was laid out earlier.  But that being said, Tai's style is at least consistent.  Additionally the film does have some temporal jumps that seem to happen quickly without many changes in the cast other than Idan's character.  He will age considerably but everyone around him looks the same and with no hint given to the audience other than an older child in the room.

But that being said, this film is a unique experience that has a subtle style and care to the story that we don't normally see.  God of the Piano is a film that we don't see often, one that has subtle touches, parental struggle that crescendos throughout, and some amazing musical performances.

Rent it.

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