The Last Piano: a melody in the heart of hell [critique]

Labeled Cannes 2020, Jimmy Kairouz’s first feature film tells the tragedies perpetrated by the Islamic State, without being afraid to express his emotions

It’s one of those true stories that few screenwriters would have dared to imagine. Or how a Syrian pianist (Tarek Yaacoub, striking) selected for an audition in Vienna will see this moment of potential changeover of a life jostled by the war in his country and the hatred of all forms of art among the soldiers of the Islamic State which, by destroying his piano, forces him on an uncertain journey to find parts and repair it. For his first feature, which won the Label honors at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Jimmy Keyrouz recounts terror in its most abject form without turning his camera away. A homosexual swung unceremoniously from a roof with the sole crime of a sexual orientation that displeases Daesch. Books that are burned to permanently erase the rich and tumultuous history of a country for future generations. But he does so by fully assuming a melodramatic side. On paper, this big gap seems conducive to road trips. And here and there they can actually happen. But in the end this audacious gesture wins the day because Jimmy Keyrouz never deviates from it or artificially slows down the torrent of strong emotions that his story conveys. All with the help of the remarkable photography work of Joe Saade in a Syria reconstituted in a Lebanon in ruins but also the music composed by the always inspired Gabriel Yared.

By Jimmy Keyrouz. With Tarek Yaacoub, Adel Karam, Badih Abou Chakra… Duration: 1h50. Released April 13, 2022

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