Short of the Week

The Piano Tuner

A piano tuner pretends to be blind for simple thrills until he sees something he shouldn’t in this well-crafted French thriller. — OFFLINE due to Copyright claim by Premium-Films.

Some premises are just brilliant—with just a simple pitch you’re hooked. Such is the case with Olivier Treiner’s ingenious short thriller, The Piano Tuner (L’accordeur). A young man—in this case a disgraced musical prodigy come piano tuner—pretends to be blind. What starts somewhat innocently slowly develops into something more off kilter, a voyeuristic existence where those being watched can readily see their watcher, unaware of his true facilities. This leads to the film’s gripping narrative hook, the kind of thing you’d see in bold letters on the bottom of a movie poster: if you’re supposed to be blind but can actually see, what if you see something that you shouldn’t?

But, Treiner’s film is more than just a great concept. It’s also incredibly well executed, tightly scripted and perfectly paced. The Piano Tuner deceptively transforms from intriguing premise to smartly crafted thriller in an admirable, almost Hitchcockian, style. In what could have easily provided enough engaging content for a feature narrative, the film relates an entire range of character development and emotions in thirteen short minutes, from depression, to humor, to sensuality, and ultimately, suspense. All of this is supplemented by our main character’s occupation as a piano tuner. His aural profession provides a perfect contrast to his supposed disability, his acutely developed ear functioning as counterbalance to what he “lacks.” In service to the plot, it also allows him access to the homes of several people, a silent witness to that which he should be unable to see.

All of this drama is accompanied by—what else—a classical piano score. Simple and oddly suspenseful, the beautiful piano notes are far more effective than your standard, hackneyed suspense drones. Being that the majority of the music is diegetic, the suspense builds naturally, never feeling manipulative. Visually, the film looks sharp, filled with beautiful, moody cinematography, as well as playful visual quirks that are just understated enough to not be distracting. The magnification of our main character’s eye as he peers through a fishbowl is one such example, highlighting the film’s constant use of both the visual and auditory senses as a cinematic leitmotif. If I have a minor structural complaint, it’s that I wish the film cut out its first 50 seconds, which provides an unnecessary preview to the wonderfully creepy, deliciously ambiguous climax.

Minor quibbles aside, Treiner has crafted a true sensory experience, expertly supported by assured direction and solid acting. The film, which has played at several major festivals, has yet to find many viewers online. That’s a shame, as the Piano Tuner manages to succeed in the one department where so many online shorts fail—a strong, well-written story. This is definitely worth mentioning, for rarely do visuals, mood, and plot come together on such a pitch perfect note.

~
Ivan is a filmmaker, video editor, and motion graphic artist from the Washington, DC area. He is an avid movie watcher and podcaster. He’s also quite handsome and charming (at least that's what his Mom says). For more information about Ivan, visit Lucky 9 Studios.
  • http://www.facebook.com/captainkiko Christian Abad

    Such a great short, one of the best I’ve seen in a while!

  • http://jammymonkey.wordpress.com/ Paul Duvall

    What a fantastic concept. As you say, this could easily be the plot of a full-length film. And it would absolutely be one that I would watch.

  • Marc

    That was fantastic, thanks for sharing.

  • Lorenzo Benitez

    This goes to show how simply asking “What if … ?” can create some of the most interesting stories worth telling. This is a remarkable short film, thank you so much for shaking it with us!

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Great premise, great pacing, and a stellar ending. I’d bet this is just the beginning for director, Oliver Treiner.

  • Wouter De Bruycker

    Magnifique.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thompsign Mark Thompson

    awesome!!! great job!

  • Unadrien

    I started watching it, only came halfway, it seemed reallly good. Then I got back to it now (a week or so later) It seems to be a private video on vimeo and I can’t watch the rest of it, too bad! Id love to see the whole film!

  • Unadrien

    I started watching it, only came halfway, it seemed reallly good. Then I got back to it now (a week or so later) It seems to be a private video on vimeo and I can’t watch the rest of it, too bad! Id love to see the whole film!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Ah, that’s a bummer. The film has a french distributor, and it looks like they came in and pulled it offline.

  • Marco

    It can still be watched on Youtube. Simply search for “l’accordeur”, and it comes up.

  • megabigator

    WHAT THE HECK HAPPENS TO THE GUY???

  • http://www.facebook.com/gwydion.burghout Gwydion Burghout

    the film does not open…

  • http://www.lucky9studios.com/ Ivan Kander

    The filmmakers, unfortunately, had to take the film offline. Hopefully it will eventually be put back up.

  • kevin Christensen

    Does anyone know the name of the song in the film or where to get sheets for it?

  • acerrrog

    The Cinematography of the piece was great, does anyone know what kind of camera it was shot on?

  • Someone Else
  • ASice

    What a successful film. I have been attempting to find it somewhere else, anyone know where to watch it now?

  • ASice

    What a successful film. I have been attempting to find it somewhere else, anyone know where to watch it now?

  • unicorn

    can’t watch the video ;(

  • Gee Male

    Wow…………..didn’t see that coming.

  • derp

    something weird is going on with the video on this one. watched it on vimeo though. oh man it’s so good.

  • dpheiderich