Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Reviewed by: Kristine McKenna
    Those who can surrender to the Quays' poetic logic will find The Piano Tuner to be nothing short of a masterpiece.
  2. The film is about vanity and pride, and the caging of beauty. Its elaborate fabrication has an intoxicating quality that captures the imagination like all good horror stories.
  3. Flaunting elements of "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Island of Lost Souls," the movie, with its haunting, claustrophobic environment, allows the living and the merely lifelike to interact with an eerie beauty.
  4. 75
    Mainstream audiences will be put off by the lack of a straightforward narrative, but adventurous moviegoers will find pleasure in the hypnotic originality of the images.
  5. 75
    Seething with suggestions of perverse pleasures and inchoate horror, this dark fairy tale won't win the Pennsylvania-born, London-based Quay brothers any new fans -- it plays to the converted, and the converted know who they are.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Their film is a fiendishly detailed toy -- the sort found at the back of a forgotten museum -- and while the shadow play it presents is an old and eternal one, you never cease to hear the whirr of the gears.
  7. Reviewed by: Karen Wilson
    The story--is only important in that it gives the Quays a foundation for their fabulous animated tableaux.
  8. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Impresses as a visually exquisite, rigorously intellectual but dauntingly obscurantist fable about automatons, opera singers and herniated desire that will appeal exclusively to arthouse auds with rarefied tastes.
  9. 67
    Like a dream, this film is wispy and ethereal; like a nightmare, it lodges in your hindbrain and gnaws away with gleeful abandon.
  10. 58
    The result is a cast of characters who are little better than automatons themselves. This wouldn't be a problem if the rest of the film were as captivating as it was surely meant to be. Instead, the Quays work overtime to make both their story line and images as obscure as possible.
  11. With the film's hypnotic emphasis on artistry and architecture, most viewers will probably get their satisfaction from the striking visual elements, particularly the stop-motion animation.
  12. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    Once the Quay brothers confidently establish their film's astonishing look, they merely repeat their techniques until the images no longer delight or surprise, leaving all too visible the Quays' struggles with the trickier demands of storytelling and character development.
  13. 50
    Perhaps the film will connect with those attuned to the Quays' allusive wavelength, much as a dog responds to a whistle. Others won't hear a thing.
  14. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    By the end of the 99 minute running time, there is a terrible sense of been-there/done-that. And for artists of the Quays' caliber, that is a huge mistake.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. ChadS.
    Apr 26, 2007
    Is Adolfo(Saracho Cesar) dead, too? Who knows? "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes" is beautiful to look at, but the story is needlessly opaque and arch. Why does Droz(John Gottfried) invite Adolfo to tune his "automotons" if he has it in mind to keep these former lovers apart? Trying to differentiate and identify the multiple planes of existence in this fantastical world is exhausting, and frankly just not worth it. The unique animation that these gifted artists are renown for would've been better served had the narrative not been so off-puttingly obscure. Poetic logic is fine for a short film, but all that enigmatic dialogue, non-linear storytelling, and ambitious editing choices(I think it might be in the early-Russian tradition) becomes a chore to sit through at full-feature length. "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes" is purely an intellectual moviegoing experience. There is not a single moment that will elicit any sort of emotion from the viewer. Full Review »
  2. MargaretL.
    Jan 23, 2007
    The Quay brothers should stick to their original actors, puppets. They seem unable to direct living, breathing people.
  3. JamesS
    Nov 18, 2006
    This is an amazing, unusual film, worth seeing for the art direction alone. The critics are right that it won't appeal to everyone, and honestly, I don't even know what to compare it to. Maybe that's one of the best compliments I can give to this film. It is extremely original, surreal and exquisitely beautiful. Full Review »