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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
Powerful and thought provoking, 'The Piano Teacher' features a superb performance from Isabelle Huppert
'The Piano Teacher' is the third Haneke movie I've seen. I didn't like the other two ('Funny Games' I thought was a cop out and 'Code Unknown' a bore) so I expected little from this one. However I was wrong to prejudge it. It's a very good movie, powerful, thought provoking and features a superb performance from Isabelle Huppert. She plays a Erika Kohut, a brilliant but highly repressed pianist. Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel) is a young man who is very sure of himself who attempts to seduce her. The thing is she is a deeply disturbed individual and he can't cope when her true nature is uncovered. I don't want to go into any great detail about Erika or her mental state. The movie reveals this slowly and beautifully. I was impressed that there was no attempt at pop psychology or pat explanations that you would expect in a Hollywood melodrama with similar subject matter. Huppert is extraordinary throughout. I can't think of many contemporary Hollywood actresses who could have played this role as convincingly. 'The Piano Teacher' is not for those who can't face the dark side of human nature. It's far from being a life affirming "feel good" movie. If the difficult subject matter of 'Irreversible' or 'The War Zone' interested you then this is your kind of movie. I can't say I "enjoyed" it, but it was a worthwhile, rewarding experience and how often do you get to say that these days?
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