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Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly brilliant, 18 April 2007
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This review is from: The Piano Teacher [DVD] [2001] (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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Jan 2008, 01:57:23 GMT
"She eventually gains ultimate control in the last few moments of the film."

That's the only point that I fail to understand in this excellently expressed review.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2008, 19:44:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jan 2008, 07:55:11 GMT
Hello there, many thanks for the comment.

"She eventually gains ultimate control in the last few moments of the film."

[Spoiler alert] This refers to her stabbing herself at the end of the film. At the time I assumed that this was an act of suicide and meant that taking one's own life is taking ultimate control when you seem to have lost it over everything else. But - in retrospect, she stabs herself in the shoulder rather than somewhere which would guarantee death, so the stabbing could just as much be a desperate act of frustration and anger.
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@GeekZilla9000
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.

Top Reviewer Ranking: 178