A Surprise in Texas
For many, piano competitions come and go without the slightest notion. Not only are they rarely publicized to the non-music world, they rarely garner the attention that they deserve. A Surprise in Texas focuses in on the Van Cliburn International Competition, the most prestigious and rewarding competition in the discipline. Students come from all over the world to compete, knowing that a victory would result in a career in one of the most difficult professions around. A record contract is given to the top three performers, as well as a handsome cash prize. But nothing resembles the pride and prestige of winning, reaffirming the hours and hours of practice.
As a piano player, I have a biased appreciation for a film such as this. The music is unquestionably brilliant, and the contestants are unlike any characters you could create. The story is a bit anti-climatic as the end result is pretty clear based on the presentation of information. But Rosen does a great job at showcasing the amount of effort and concentration required to complete such a daunting task as the Cliburn Competition.
The classical tunes played are only meant for a certain audience, as is this movie. A blind contestant makes for an unusual story, but the amount of time focused on him is a bit disappointing; especially considering the interesting aspects of the other entrants. I feel he got a lot of attention thanks to his obstacles and wholeheartedly wish that we had been shown a little more background on his competitors.
All together, I did enjoy A Surprise in Texas, and felt as if I was in the middle of all the excitement that is the Cliburn International Competition. However, with that said, I do think the film would be better titled ‘The Nobuyuski Tsujii Story.’ If you do that, at least the viewers will be prepared for the one-person focal point that ended up being my lone complaint. Not necessarily a must-see theatrical feature, but should be added to your Netflix for an entertaining in-home viewing.