Synopsis by Mark Deming
A young man must deal with several generations of madness and familial intrigue in this screen adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Timothy Findley. Charlie Kilworth (Christian Campbell) is a young man whose mother, Lily (Stockard Channing), is the daughter of Frederick Wyatt (R.H. Thomson), the owner of a well-known piano manufacturing company. Lily is also a free-spirited and unstable woman, who bore Charlie out of wedlock, has had a number of lovers over the years, and has a unsettling fascination with fire. Lily's mother Ede (Wendy Crewson) has put her daughter in a mental hospital on several occasions, and is considering having Lily lobotomized. Charlie, meanwhile, has had affairs with a number of women but has never settled down with anyone; working as an events coordinator at a resort hotel, Charlie becomes infatuated with Alex Lamont (Sarah Strange), the singer in a dance band Charlie has booked into the ballroom. Lily urges her son to get married and raise a family, but Charlie isn't so sure he's ready for a lifetime commitment, and Alex becomes frustrated by Charlie's inability to take their relationship seriously. Meanwhile, Ede and Frederick have decided that Lily needs to be permanently committed to an institution; Charlie insists that they send her to a comfortable private facility, but then discovers that a mysterious benefactor has been supporting Lily for years, and Ede and Frederick have decided if Lily is to be in a private institution, then the generous stranger must be the one who pays for it. Surprisingly, The Piano Man's Daughter was produced in part by noted comic actress Whoopi Goldberg.