Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Piano Teacher(2001) aka. La Pianiste

Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke (writer). Elfriede Jelinek (novel)

Starring:Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel

What do you get when you combine an aging, eccentric, piano teacher prone to masochism and a handsome, young rake who likes to play ice hockey and Schumann…? You get director Michael Haneke’s film The Piano Teacher.

This film stars Isabelle Huppert as the eccentric Erika Kohut, a professor of classical piano at a respected musical conservatory in Vienna who lives with her overbearing, co-dependant mother. Except for the fact that living with her mother drives Erika to pursue hobbies such as voyeurism, pornography, and self-mutilation, everything is going hunky dory in Erika’s life. That is until she meets a dashing, young, but talented, electrical engineer/pianist named Walter Klemmer (Benoît Magimel). The two meet at a piano recital where they both are performing. Walter begins his romantic pursuit of the icy Erika with a seductive performance of Schumann. Little does Monsieur Klemmer know that he may be in for more than he bargained for…

The Piano Teacher garnered several film awards including the Cannes Grand Prize of the Jury award and also the Best Actor and Best Actress awards. Isabelle Huppert’s performance as Erika Kohut is so amazing. She is pure genius in this role.

Benoît Magimel is also superb as the dashing young suitor Walter Klemmer. His acting is very human and unapologetic in its portrayal of a young man who totally loses his grip on reality while pursuing the woman he desires.

Another performance worth mentioning is that of the Annie Girardot who plays Erika’s mother. The scenes between Girardot and Huppert are so layered and well acted.

If you watch the DVD, it features a very fascinating interview with Huppert herself. Huppert talks about the making of the film as well as her own views on acting. It is very interesting to see how her real life behavior compares to her behavior in the movie. A very educational interview for any actor.

The Piano Teacher is a film about love and seduction. The main character of Erika Kohut struggles with her desire for love and her fears of being seduced. The actions she takes to avoid the pain of seduction ultimately contribute to her greater downfall. Due to the graphic nature of it's depiction of rape and themes of sexual perversity, viewers be warned, while a french film, this movie is not really a first date movie... unless of course your date happens to be an only child piano teacher with an overbearing mother and a proclivity towards pornographic films, voyeurism, and masochistic self-mutilation. That said, this movie is an example of acting and story telling at it’s finest.

If you watched this movie and liked it you may also like the following movies:

Dangerous Liaisons, The Libertine, 2046, In The Mood For Love, I Heart Huckabees, Last Tango in Paris, Ma Mére

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