The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes

LORD OF THE RING Fairy-tale visuals are a drag.
LORD OF THE RING Fairy-tale visuals are a drag.

Time Out says

Only the second live-action feature by veteran animators (and identical twins) the Quay Brothers, The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes thrives on the originality of its visual design—for about 15 or 20 minutes, at least. The fantastic story kicks off with the kidnapping of opera singer Malvina (Casar) by the mysterious Dr. Droz (John), who whisks her away to the secluded estate where he lives with his enigmatic housekeeper (Serna). A piano tuner (Csar Saracho) is summoned to service the doctor’s singular collection of musical automatons and gradually learns of plans by Droz, who’s also a frustrated composer, to stage a diabolical concert featuring an apparently hypnotized Malvina.

Combining hi-def video with elements of animation, Piano Tuner unfolds in a perpetual dawn glow, but any other brilliance on display here is purely technical. The fairy-tale visuals soon grow tiresome, narrative suspense never really kicks in, and the end result is something like a Guy Maddin film drained of humor. It’s not exactly boring, but it’s seldom very engaging, save for the too-infrequent appearances of Serna, whose physical presence and irrepressible eroticism provide a welcome counterpoint to all the visual wispiness. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.) — Joshua Land



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