‘A disconcertingly assured tango between tenderness and brutality’ Desson Thompson of the Washington Post.
Michael Haneke’s La PIANISTE (2001) is based on the novel written by Elfriede Jelinek. The film stars Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel. La pianiste (2001) or The Piano Teacher’s audio is in native French language. To fully enjoy the effect of the film–it is highly recommended that you enjoy the original language version with English subtitles–without English voice dubbing.
Erika (Isabelle Huppert) is a strict Schubert & Schumann pianist. Her regard for these musical greats refine her staunch personality; as her persona towards her students emanate dominance–in every aspect–from conversation, to the restrictive way she obtains sustenance–to the self-destructive way she mutilates herself–strict, refined–appropriate. What she had not calculated in her monotonous lifestyle–the potential for love. Love not in the sense that maybe you and I pursue–this love has an error of extreme masochistic style of adoration–and it is this form of love that will make Erika realize just how vulnerable she really was.
It is immediately understood why she had such a demeanor. She lives with her mother (Annie Girardot) who is routinely domineering–her mother searches her room, goes through her purse–even still chastise this forty-something Erika! Now, after witnessing her mother’s cruelty towards her–developed my understanding of her demonstrating sexual repression or repressive acts and verbally chastises her students. The character experiences erotic pleasures via voyeuristic behaviors, visiting sex shops to watch sadomasochistic style films. This is a lonely figure, isolated in herself torments until she meets a 17-year-old engineering student, Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel).
The extremely attractive Walter causes an emotional conflict within Erika–which is difficult for her to understand. His approach to her is initially genuine. As the film progresses this element changes. As she pursues his interest–she is uncomfortable with the results of his conquest–as love–once so unattainable in her staunch personal reality becomes unhinged–how will she handle it? Now that Walter advances towards her sexual unreality–will he be able to withstand her view of what love is understood to be? Well, you will have to see this one for yourself and decide.