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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 35,224 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 21 wins & 17 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?


The part of Erika's mother was originally offered to Jeanne Moreau 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 »


References Cries & Whispers (1972) See more »


Piano Sonata in A Major, D.959
Franz Schubert
See more »

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User Reviews

Huppert Is Extraordinary
26 July 2004 | by (San Antonio, Texas) – See all my reviews

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.

90 of 104 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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