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The Piano Teacher(La Pianiste)

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Austria, France, Germany · 2001
Rated R · 2h 11m
Director Michael Haneke
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Annie Girardot, Benoît Magimel, Susanne Lothar
Genre Drama, Romance

Erika Kohut, an unmarried, sexually repressed piano teacher living with her domineering mother, meets a young man who starts romantically and sexually pursuing her. However, Erika's paraphilic desires quickly undermine this burgeoning relationship as she learns that some fantasies should remain fantasies...

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What are people saying?

Cait Mohr Profile picture for Cait Mohr

The Piano Teacher, much like its titular protagonist, is a movie that is so earnestly depraved that it’s sometimes difficult to watch (and this is one of its strong suits). A grim cautionary tale about the dangers of fantasy fulfilment and the horrors of sexual subjectification, the film feels like a perverse coming-of-age film at times, with Huppert’s character portraying a strange sort of adolescent naiveite buried underneath her stern, emotionally-distant demeanor—one of the most wonderfully cringeworthy aspects of her performance and the movie in general.

What are critics saying?


Salon by

When you see The Piano Teacher in a movie theater you get a chance to go back in time, back to the days when French movies were titillating, provocative and kind of smart.


The New Yorker by David Denby

A seriously scandalous work, beautifully made, and it deserves a sizable audience that might argue over it, appreciate it -- even hate it. [1 April 2002, p. 98]


Variety by David Rooney

Whatever valid points are being explored are hopelessly clouded by the film's unwavering earnestness as it descends into silliness and excess.


New Times (L.A.) by Jean Oppenheimer

Huppert has never looked more beautiful. Despite her severe expression and lack of makeup, her face communicates enormous character. She proves absolutely spellbinding.


Los Angeles Times by Kevin Thomas

The Piano Teacher will surely be too strong for some audiences and is best left to those who like films that take big risks and get away with them.

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