Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
Jean, a farm lad, wants to escape his silent father; he runs to Paris to his older brother, Georges, who's away covering the war in Kosovo. Angry, he throws a bag of half-eaten pastry into ... See full summary »
A 14-year-old video enthusiast is so caught up in film fantasy that he can no longer relate to the real world, to such an extent that he commits murder and records an on-camera confession for his parents.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.
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
Erika (Isabelle Huppert) is a fortyish piano teacher with deeply repressed sexual feelings. She lives with her mother (Annie Girardot), a controlling, oppressive woman, and deals with her erotic longings through voyeurism, visits to sex shops and self mutilation. She still sleeps with her mother. The film largely takes place at the conservatory where she teaches and at the apartment she shares with her mother.
Huppert in an excellent on-disc interview says Erika longs to be loved but is frightened of seduction. She treats her students coldly but is drawn to one who is vain and handsome, and played by Benoit Magimel. The rest is the story of her creating and accepting a masochistic relationship with the young man that spirals down into her own psycho-sexual collapse.
This movie won't be everyone's choice for an evening with the kids. It's a serious, disturbing film for adults that looks grimly at repressed feelings and emotional self destruction. For the grownups, it might put you off sado-masochism for a few days. It's a first-rate film.
Isabelle Huppert is one of my favorite actors. Like Depardieu, she has no apparent screen vanity; she'll do what it takes for the role. She also has the rare ability to express deep, unsettling feelings with an absolute economy of expression. She is incredible in this film.
I'm happy to have the movie, but to tell you the truth I'm not sure how many more times I'll watch it.
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