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7,525 Ratings

The Piano Teacher

La pianiste

Directed by Michael Haneke
Austria, France, 2001


Erika, a piano teacher at the Vienna Conservatory, lives with her tyrannical mother in a hermetically sealed world of love-hate and dependency in which there is no room for men. Her sex life consists of voyeurism and masochistic self-injury. Then one of Erika’s pupils decides to seduce his teacher.

Our take

The great Isabelle Huppert is the intensely smoldering center of this gripping tale of lust and obsession, which won Best Actress, Best Actor, and the Grand Prix at Cannes. One of Haneke’s most popular films, and one of the most incisive, disturbing and psychologically rich dramas of this century.

The Piano Teacher Directed by Michael Haneke
I relish nothing more than watching any world-class actress tearing into a complicated part, and the ferocious precision of what Isabelle Huppert concocts here—vengeful, expert, supercilious, tamped-down, lonely, and volcanically perverse—is something that no other actress in years has equalled. In combination, these separate marks of the film’s distinction yield images and sequences so blunt and shattering in their affective immediacy that the film is that rare thing—literally unforgettable.
November 01, 2015
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Haneke likes to rattle your brain and moral center, making you ruminate long and hard on what you’ve just witnessed. With The Piano Teacher, it might be when our fine character lies in a bathtub and…I’ll get to that moment later. The Piano Teacher, as squirm inducing as it can become, may be the director’s most powerfully unsettling, erotic and at times, comic film.
June 14, 2009
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Haneke engineers an odd and compelling kind of sympathy for Erika. The moment she gives away her haughty, dominating posture for the sake of passion, she loses everything. The more she tries to fit Walter’s image of ideal femininity, the weaker and more pathetic she becomes. The Piano Teacher is an extraordinary study of emotional abuse.
August 01, 2002
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