- Starring: Annie Girardot, Isabelle Huppert
- Summary: Erika (Huppert) is a piano teacher at a prestigious music school in Vienna. In her early forties and single, she lives with her overprotective and controlling mother (Girardot). Lonely and alienated, Erika finds solace by visiting sex shops and experimenting with masochism. (Kino International)
- Director: Michael Haneke
- Genre(s): Drama, Music
- More Details and Credits »
AleH.10This movie can be called a masterpiece! Regardless of the plot, the director knew how to make the audience tremble of emotion. The picture and the music are subtly arranged to accent the deep constrast in the personality of the pianist (the movie's original name). I particularly enjoyed the take when the protagonist's other side is first revealed: after rehearsing Schubert, the music stays in the background while the piano teacher walks through a mall and ends in a porno boutique.… Expand
In Michael Haneke's "The Piano Teacher," which won three awards at Cannes 2001 (best actress, actor and film), Isabelle Huppert plays the role of a bold, conflicted woman named Erika Kohut. Erika is approaching middle age-she is a highly respected and equally demanding instructor at the conservatory of music in Vienna. Erika is stone cold--distant, unsmiling, she leads a secret life of self-mutilation. In the classroom she sits without emotion, but listens attentively to her students. She doesn't want to help her students however--she wants to destroy them.
Erika lives with her domineering mother, who is immediately subjected to her mother's demanding questions the minute she walks through the door. We quickly realize Erika is completely manipulated and owned by her mother's invasive possessiveness. Instantly Erika resorts to behaving like a child, or a rebellious teenager at best. They both sleep in the bed together. Her mother (a chillingly unsympathetic Annie Girardot), complains and is bitter about money Erika is squandering. Pleading, shouting, and violence is followed by brief tearful apologies--and it is obvious that this is a well-worn habitual pattern. She intrusively rings Erika when she is rehearsing, and apparently has no life of her own. Enter Walter Klemmer (Benoît Magimel), who is a handsome, self-assured student who auditions for her class and is forthright in his attraction to her. She responds coldly then demands he let her lead. Then she changes the role with a detailed letter, inviting him into her dark, twisted fantasies. The sex scenes within the movie, while not graphic, are long, uncomfortable--and psychologically brutal. The movie goes to a place of mad masochism. At a certain point we begin to feel that the director, the characters, and the actors will take this anywhere--there are no boundaries. Erika is not simply an adventuress, or a sexual experimenter--Erika is a psychological train wreck. Walter's dreams and thoughts about an experienced older woman have turned into nightmares about interactions and scenarios he doesn't even want to know about.
Erika is a highly respected professor at the prestigious Vienna conservatory, who just happens to spend her free time visiting pornography dens and mutilating her genitals. The women is a ticking time bomb that's on the verge of exploding at any given point. Some audience members will dislike the ending, but with a film like this any conventional ending would be a cop-out. Ultimately, "The Piano Teacher" is a disturbing portrait of a woman in power coming undone before our very eyes.… Collapse
4This is a movie about madness. An uptight, arrogant, caustic piano teacher turns out to be Mrs. Goodbar. We're led to believe she got this way from being under the thumb of a controlling mother, but like Black Swan the madness is too extreme to have come from suppression of the id. At first her madness is fascinating to watch, because her fetish seems to be sexual control....of men., but unfortunately the character then disintegrates into a masochist who allows her student to get the upper hand, and let out plenty of his suppressed anger at women. The last half hour is gruesome to watch and we learn nothing about her or the point of the movie. The ending is abrupt and maddeningly teasing. Hubbert is one of my favorite French actresses and I'm sure she took this on for the challenge but once again "madness" on the screen is used to encourage excess rather than insight.… Expand