Film: The Piano Teacher 18 rating Year: 2001
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Country: France / Austria Genre: Drama
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel

Also see our Guide to Michael Haneke, or visit our Michael Haneke UK or Michael Haneke US stores, or see our reviews of Michael Haneke's other films Hidden and Time Of The Wolf.

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The Piano Teacher Synopsis - The Piano Teacher centres around the character of Erika a virtuoso pianist and and piano teacher who, approaching her 40's, lives at home with her strict and repressive mother, and is seemingly scared of physical intimacy. One of her pupils Walter, a vain young man, make his interest in her clear, but she resolutely rejects his advances. Erica's sexual peculiarities become apparent when we see her visit seedy porn shops, and spy on courting couples for her pleasure. With her frustration rising she consents to Walters advances but she bars physical intimacy and instead writes her instructions about the parameters of the sexual relationship in a note to him. When he visits her home to tackle her about "leading him on" she chooses to reveal her wishes for him to physically hurt her. Walter does not want to have this type of sexual relationship with her so rejects her and leaves. Sometime later, in her desperation to maintain the possibility of having some kind of sexual relationship with the man she has opened herself up to, she begs him to take her back and she promises that she will be "normal". But the intimacy doesn't go to plan and Walter castigates her and informs her how much her views disgust him. She leaves distraught but she is determined to prove something to him.

Review of The Piano Teacher - The Piano Teacher is a superb portrait on the subject of emotional and sexual repression. The films story pulls no punches and is quite candid about the effect of such repression upon the developing mind. The film is beautifully shot and is visually stunning. Isabelle Huppert, who in my opinion has been perhaps the finest actress in the world for the last dozen or so years, is stunning in this film and I think it maybe her best performance to date. Her economy of movement that she's employs but whist still conveying the turmoil and frustration bubbling within in is absolute masterful. It is such a shame that Hollywood stories never go so deep into human psyche nd so they rarely produce films with such insight as this, luckily the likes of Huppert and Haneke very rarely disappoint.
The reasons I recommend The Piano Teacher are: 1. A superb plot 2. The performances of the Huppert is masterpiece. 3. A visually stunning film.