★★★★½ - STUFF
- A precise drama that packs a powerful emotional punch -
God of the Piano’s soundtrack, cinematography and script make it well worth your while seeking it out.
Anat is a gifted pianist, but always overshadowed, diminished and sidelined by the men of her family; her father, grandfather and husband.
When Anat has her first child – a son – she perhaps sees in him a chance to gain the respect of the lineage of musicians and composers she is apparently heir to.
She certainly takes some pretty extreme measures to ensure the child she raises has every chance to succeed. One of which will haunt her for the next decade at least – and probably for the rest of her life.
God of the Piano is a precise drama of ruthlessly and cruelly ambitious people clambering over each other for their own moments of recognition and adulation, driven on by the casual sadism of a family dynamic that must look serene and successful from the outside, but which is a hot mess of resentments and pettiness behind closed doors.
Comparisons to a couple of Michael Haneke pieces – The Piano Teacher, obviously, but also the 2005 Cache – are valid. God of the Piano shares with those films a script in which most of the really important stuff is communicated wordlessly via expression and reaction, and a core group of characters who are so warped by their family lives that they are incapable of any heartfelt emotion other than anger and self-loathing.
But, unlike Haneke, on-debut writer/director Itay Tal never takes his film into horror and bloodshed. God of the Piano remains a reserved, chilly creation, unfurling in a series of beautifully composed, day-lit and near-static frames.
At a lean 80-minute running time, God of the Piano packs an emotional punch that will definitely provoke a bit of post-credits conversation. It's not often I find the time to watch a film a second time, but, for this one, I'll make an exception.
For Naama Preis' performance as Anat, for a startlingly good soundtrack of classical and original compositions, for the formal beauty of cinematographer Meidan Arama's framing and for the cool intelligence of the script, God of the Piano is a keeper.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF
God of the Piano is now playing at Light House Cinema!