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The Piano Teacher (2001)
"La pianiste" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  5 September 2001 (France)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 35,247 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 232 user | 125 critic | 26 from

A young man romantically pursues his masochistic piano teacher.



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 17 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Schober
Udo Samel ...
Dr. George Blonskij
Anna Sigalevitch ...
Anna Schober
Cornelia Köndgen ...
Mme Gerda Blonskij
Thomas Weinhappel ...
Georg Friedrich ...
Man in drive-in
Philipp Heiss ...
William Mang ...
Rudolf Melichar ...
Michael Schottenberg ...
Gabriele Schuchter ...
Singing teacher


Erika Kohut is a pianist, teaching music. Schubert and Schumann are her forte, but she's not quite at concert level. She's approaching middle age, living with her mother who is domineering then submissive; Erika is a victim then combative. With her students she is severe. She visits a sex shop to watch DVDs; she walks a drive-in theater to stare at couples having sex. Walter is a self-assured student with some musical talent; he auditions for her class and is forthright in his attraction to her. She responds coldly then demands he let her lead. Next she changes the game with a letter, inviting him into her fantasies. How will he respond; how does sex have power over our other faculties? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for aberrant sexuality including violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |



Release Date:

5 September 2001 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Piano Teacher  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,236,319 (France) (7 September 2001)


$1,900,282 (USA) (8 November 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Isabelle Huppert really played the piano in the film. She had studied piano for 12 years. As preparation for her role as a piano teacher, she resumed practicing a year before the film was started. See more »


[first lines]
The Mother: Good evening, child.
Erika Kohut: Evening, mama.
The Mother: [sarcastically] Home already? I'm so happy.
Erika Kohut: I'm going.
The Mother: Not so fast.
Erika Kohut: Please. Leave me be. I'm tired.
The Mother: I can quite believe it. Your last pupil left 3 hours ago. Might I know where you've been all this time?
Erika Kohut: [trying to go to her room] Please.
The Mother: No, you don't. Not until you tell me.
See more »


Featured in Mein Leben: Michael Haneke (2009) See more »


Piano Trio in E flat, D.929
Franz Schubert
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User Reviews

A Compassionate Film About Twisted People
18 January 2002 | by (N. Ireland) – See all my reviews

To be honest I had to go have a stiff drink after this film; I felt drained and my shoulders were knotted. I also had to talk the whole thing out with the friend I saw it with for a good half hour. Whatever else this movie is, it's not dull - you have to have respect for anything that produces such a visceral reaction, even if you couldn't claim to have 'enjoyed' the experience. (Anyone else I've talked to who's seen it has responded in much the same way.)

The reason the film is so powerful is not simply because it deals with unpalatable subject-matter like sado-masochism and violently dysfunctional relationships - that on its own would leave no defence against a charge of exploitation. It packs a punch because whatever her deeply ingrained character flaws, however reprehensible her behaviour (and at one point that's VERY), the piano teacher Erika always retains your sympathy - you never forget the type of influences which might have made her what she is, while scenes as subtle as the one where she walks down a street of shoppers, being casually bumped into without apology, remind you of her utter isolation. Isabelle Huppert's performance is as brilliant as it is uncomfortable and I can't even imagine how she might have wound down after a day's filming.

Appalling, compelling, horribly funny at times, but ultimately deeply despairing look at how people damage each other. View with caution.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Could have been a great movie kimkegaard
What about the knife at the end ? l_dura_lex_sed_lex_l
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