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 »
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 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.
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
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 »
I saw this film at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. La Pianiste reinforces the "Austrians=grim" thesis I'm formulating. Isabelle Huppert won a well-deserved Best Actress award at Cannes for her portrayal of a woman who, in her efforts to attain the artistic ideal, loses her humanity. Trapped by her talent, she suppresses her emotions and her sexuality until they can only be expressed in twisted and terrifying ways. When a younger student falls in love with her, our hopes rise, but are soon dashed by the realization that she cannot experience love the way others can. It is too late for her, and the film's final 30 harrowing minutes are, tellingly, devoid of the beautiful music that carried the first 90 minutes. The message seems to be that the music itself is not enough without the life and beauty it's describing.
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