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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Compelling !
This film is a perfect example of French cinema at its best. One of France's greatest actresses - Isabelle Huppert - plays the part of Erika, a Viennese piano teacher, late thirties and sexually repressed, she lives an isolated, lonely life in a small apartment with her aged and volatile mother with whom she has a love-hate relationship. She has masochistic tendencies and...
Published on 12 Mar 2012 by DoDo Fan

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars The piano teacher dvd
There hasn't been too many films that I haven't liked, but this is one of them.
The acting was good but I thought the story-line was poor.
One or two things, I failed to understand ..... perhaps it was just me !
Published 14 months ago by Honeybunny17


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Compelling !, 12 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
This film is a perfect example of French cinema at its best. One of France's greatest actresses - Isabelle Huppert - plays the part of Erika, a Viennese piano teacher, late thirties and sexually repressed, she lives an isolated, lonely life in a small apartment with her aged and volatile mother with whom she has a love-hate relationship. She has masochistic tendencies and pays clandestine visits to sex-shops to view hardcore pornography. She is aware of her own talent and skill as a teacher of the classical piano and judges others harshly. When a young male student approaches her she is impressed by his musical capabilities on the piano. He too is drawn to her. With her state of mind aroused and the young student's youthful naivety fully engaged they begin an affair.
This is not a film for the faint-hearted or lovers of `Mary Poppins plays piano' type of entertainment! It is at times very dark, and sexually explicit, though the latter amounts to no more that about ten minutes or less in total in a film of over two hours. But what there is, is strong and often violent. I did wonder about the strength of the sexual scenes, until I realised it had to be so, to fully explain the intense state of mind of Erika. The film is, after all, about Erika's mental condition and her relationship with the people in her life.
The classical piano music to be heard, although the film is not about this, is nevertheless essential and enjoyable, and most is heard during the early half of the film. My only small (very) criticism is I thought the sub-titling was a little on the large side - others may not agree! It does not in any case hinder the following of the screenplay.
There are a good number of reviews of this movie - some of which are very comprehensive, even learned. They are well worth reading. I won't attempt to compete with those. What I will say is `The Piano Teacher' is a disturbing, and above all a very compelling film to watch. The industry awards it collected are no surprise. If you like French cinema films you'll like this one!
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, disturbing, yet brilliant, 26 Mar 2003
This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Make no mistake, this is not a film for the faint-hearted. It deserves it's '18' certificate. But it is nonetheless a superb film, an amazing depiction of loneliness, alienation and self-delusion. Even though I knew what was coming, it still shocked me and left me mentally gasping for breath. The most shocking thing of all, perhaps, is that the film is apparently much lighter in mood than the book it was based on!
Isabelle Huppert is superb as Erika Klohut, a woman alienated from life by her own fears and her elderly, utterly selfish mother. She is a brilliant pianist, but is so cold she could freeze a blast furnace. Huppert is amazing as she wanders through the film seeming as hard as nails, but underneath it all craving affection and something more. However, as she realises at the end, what she really craves is not what she thought. She is confused by her own sexuality and is way out of her depth in her relationship with Walter Klemmer (wonderfully realised by Benoit Magimel of 'Nids de Guepes' fame). She thinks she is in control, but it becomes very apparent to her that she isn't, and the end of the film is so sad it isn't true. Make sure you listen to Huppert's commentary on this.
This is a great film and one that will move you to the core. Klohut isn't likeable, and nor is Klemmer, but they are real people, and I think most of us certainly know someone like Klohut, although they may not be this extreme. This is great cinema, provocative yet terribly sad.
My only question is, what was she doing in the bath with that razor?!!!
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Romance, 14 Nov 2002
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Haneke has adapted Elfriede Jelinek's novel to create this disturbing psychological portrait of piano teacher Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert). Erika's claustrophobic life is filled with strict teachings and moral hypocrisy. She is a voyeur and masochist beneath her rigid exterior. Her life becomes desperate upon meeting a new student Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel). Their relationship becomes tumultuous when it becomes increasingly clear that she is incapable of nothing like a "normal" romance.
This tragedy is at many times shocking and is likely to make you squirm in discomfort over the deranged levels of Erika's mentality. While frequently repulsed, I felt an odd sympathy for her at times over the fragility of her being and her difficulty with expressing love. The cinematography of this film is bleak. The atmosphere seems glazed with an impersonality and stark indifference equal to that of Erika's spirit. The air is bizarrely punctuated with the beauty of the many musical recitals throughout the film. Director Haneke has been much criticised for this work (it has been dismissed as pretentious). Though not for the faint of heart or morally concerned, I found it strangely moving and engaging in the way it unsettles.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 25 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
I love French films with a passion that is not quite sensible or healthy, and just to make things worse, "The Piano Teacher" comes along.
This is a film in the best traditions of modern French cinema, turning all your cosy assumptions upside down and making you pay full attention whilst sitting on the edge of your seat. Isabelle Huppert plays Erika, an austere and dowdy spinster who lives with her mother in Vienna and teaches piano at the conservatoire. The film starts with her going home to her domineering mother and getting browbeaten for buying a dress that her mother thinks isn't dowdy or economical enough. Ah, you think, poor soul; but then, this being a French film, your complacent assumptions are turned upside down. Over the next half-hour we see that Erika is, in her turn, domineering, cold and even sadistic, treating her students with an almost pathological cruelty which appears less and less to be in response to her repressive home-life but more a manifestation of some innate perversity that comes from her innermost being. In her spare time she indulges in a depraved manner, going to porn studios to watch hard-core films, and enhancing her experience by picking up and sniffing the semen-sodden tissues left by previous male clients. She nearly comes a cropper one night while creeping around a drive-in cinema carpark and dogging (peering in at couples having sex in their car); whilst taking her knickers down and urinating during one of these episodes (to enhance her excitement), she is spotted by an infuriated man from inside the car she is peering into and chased around the carpark until she manages to escape. Another time, she puts broken glass into the pockets of a young female student that she doesn't like and thinks shouldn't be at the conservatoire, thus ruining the girl's hands and destroying any hope she has of making a career as a pianist. And all the time you are thinking, is she really like this, or can it all be blamed on her mother?
Inevitably, she falls in love with a handsome young man, a student at the conservatoire; he falls for her, but is repelled by the sexual perversions she wants him to inflict upon her. The ending is a touch too ambiguous for my taste, but given the nature of the characters portrayed, any other more conclusive ending would have done violence to the sense and logic of the film.

The most astonishing thing about the film is not its shock value, but the performance of Huppert. She has the ability to convey every shade of inner emotion without altering her expression in the least; anger, jealousy, sorrow, hate and lust all radiate from her glacially immobile face without a hint of movement - I've never seen anything like it in any other film, or with any other actor. It's worth watching for that alone.
If you like unpredictable, off-kilter films about unusual subjects in unlikely settings, then this is for you.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, disturbing, but ultimately worthwhile., 2 May 2002
This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Haneke is a director of incredible power. Those who have seen his previous well known efforts (Benny's Video, and Funny Games) will have some idea what to expect from one of the few directors who tackles the subjects of violence in cinema seriously. Whilst the latter two examples focused on violence and its damaging effect on a society desensitised, here, with the Piano Teacher, Haneke explores themes and subjects that neither could possibly prepare you for.
The film is essentially an examination upon the notions of sexual perversity, oppression, and the constant battle for power between the sexes. To say more would only diminish the power of Haneke's storytelling which, as seen in his previous films, unfolds in a pseudo-documentary style of unflinching camera angles. There is no showboating from Haneke, he is not interested in flash cuts, or special effects. The camera is merely an observer, keeping the action (although incredibly brutal in parts) hidden from the audience. Everything shocking happens just out of view, or obstructed. The framing is exceptional. But for all its worth, praise must be given to its cast. Particularly Huppert who bares all in her performance which cries out for comfort and sympathy while also distancing herself from us with the extreme side of her perversions. It is performances like hers that deserve to be awarded and commended, brave unflinching performances in films which tackle uncomfortable topics. This is not a film for the light hearted. However, watched in the right atmosphere the intense emotional journey of "The Piano Teacher" will stick with you forever.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly brilliant, 18 April 2007
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
It's been said by a reviewer that this film excels in the area of pornographic material alone - sex plays a huge part in this film, but there aren't any graphic sex scenes in it apart from the ones our lead lady watches in a booth at a sex shop.

Isabelle Huppert plays the sexually (and socially) repressed piano teacher, Erika Kohut. Her bizarre relationship with her domineering mother seems to be at the heart of her cold exterior. Erika seems to display little emotion outside of her apartment.

It is as we see Erika correcting the mother of one of her students when she says "we have sacrificed everything" in order for the student to practice piano by telling her that it is the daughter who has sacrificed everything - not the mother, that we glimpse some of the inner pain Erika is hiding away as she identifies with the girl.

Erika ends up engaging in what appears to be an act of spite, cold hatred against the girl. But on reflection, this may have been Erika's way of setting the girl free from the kind of life she herself had.

As part of the sexual repression, Erika exhibits strange sexual behaviour. This is expressed through such acts as mutilating her own genitals with a razor blade whilst she watches in a mirror, and urinating whilst watching couples having sex in cars. She also has a strong sexual desire which we learn about later in the film after she succumbs to the infatuation from Walter Klemmer - a student of hers.

This film is ultimately about control, to her students Erika seems to be very controlling. Erika herself is controlled by her mother and she fantasises about being controlled by someone else.

Some scenes are difficult to watch; Erika mutilating herself, the mutilation of her student's hand, the final scene with Walter Klemmer.

Throughout this film we see a woman slowly break down. Isabelle Huppert does this so convincingly that you can't take your eyes from the screen. We see a woman lose her poise and dignity. She eventually gains ultimate control in the last few moments of the film.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huppert all the way, 31 July 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
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 mutiliation. 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 disc, but to tell you the truth I'm not sure how many more times I'll watch it.

The DVD transfer is excellent, the audio is first rate, and the English subtitles are easy to follow.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar director, Stellar performances. Beautiful, yet disturbing film., 12 May 2009
By 
a1ex8 (Leeds, U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
What a superb film. I've watched this film three times now, and am still dumbfounded by Michael Haneke's delicate precision to detail and stellar directorial skill.

Not a light-hearted film in the slightest; far from it, The Piano Teacher focuses on the life of a sexually repressed, masochistic Piano teacher named Erika Kohut played beautifully by Isabelle Huppert.

Erika is a Piano professor of a music conservatory in Vienna who, although still in her late forties, lives with her incredibly domineering elderly mother (Annie Girardot) in a small apartment.

Undoubtedly mentally ill, Erika is only able to 'feel' by inflicting bestial punishments upon her students, and people close to her.

Only able to gain sexual pleasure from inflicting pain upon herself, and participating in voyeuristic activities, Erika meets a young, handsome pianist named Walter (Benoit Magimel), who quickly falls in love with her, but soon realises he is unable to indulge in her violent fantasies, but is also unable to pull himself away from her.

Isabelle Huppert as usual playes Erika with a great amount of emotion and maturity, and Benoit Magimel (previously a fairly unknown actor) as Walter is completely fantastic. What a breakthrough.

I must emphasise; this is not a film for all, due to a fairly disturbing plot, and at times graphic images (commonplace in many Haneke films).

Excellent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Self harm in F sharp, 7 Aug 2013
By 
W. Rodick (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Very interesting piece of filmmaking. The narrative is plainly drawn. No music. The sense of scene is powerful. Drama is urged by the inner turmoil of a woman. The absence of a man. Motherly extremes.

Jump cuts proliferate. Nothing fades. Moments are captured. Intimacy portrayed and mislaid. Disjointed lives. Behind the facades. High-brow intercourse. Quiet. Please, do as she says. Insane.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Diffrerent Film, 11 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Quite an interesting film. It seemed quite different from other films that I had seen of this type. I shall find time to watch it again.
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The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD]
The Piano Teacher [2001] [DVD] by Michael Haneke (DVD - 2002)
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