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Pianiste, La (2001)

Original Title : Pianiste, La
Director : Michael Haneke
Writer : Michael Haneke
Elfriede Jelinek
Genre : Drama
Country : France
Language : French
Producer : Yvon Crenn , Christine Gozlan , Veit Heiduschka , Michael Katz
Music : Francis Haines
Photography : Christian Berger
Distributor : Alta Classics S.L. Unipersonal
MPAA Rating : Rated R for aberrant sexuality including violence, and for language.
IMDB ID : 0254686
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poster for "Pianiste, La" by Michael Haneke (2001)
Pianiste, La (2001) - Michael Haneke
 

Starring

Isabelle Huppert Erika Kohut
Annie Girardot The Mother
Benoît Magimel Walter Klemmer
Susanne Lothar Mrs. Schober
Udo Samel Dr. Blonskij
Anna Sigalevitch Anna Schober
Cornelia Köndgen Mme Blonskij
Thomas Weinhappel Baritone
Georg Friedrich Man in drive-in
Philipp Heiss Naprawnik
William Mang Teacher
Rudolf Melichar Director
Michael Schottenberg Teacher
Gabriele Schuchter Margot
Dieter Berner Singing teacher
Volker Waldegg Teacher
Martina Resetarits Teacher
Annemarie Schleinzer Teacher
Karoline Zeisler Teacher
Liliane Neiska Secretary
Luz Leskowitz Violinist
Viktor Teuflmayr Pianist
Vivian Bartsch Woman in drive-in
Florian Koban Pupil
Thomas Auner Haydn pianist
Noam Morgensztern The first pupil (voice
 

Plot

How far is a man willing to go to be with the woman he wants? Erika is a veteran piano instructor at a famous music conservatory in Vienna. Erika is highly respected for her remarkable talent and strong discipline, but she's also known to be a harsh taskmistress and does not suffer fools gladly, among her students, Erika's class is considered a highly rewarding challenge, but difficult to weather. Erika seems to get her stern and unforgiving nature from her mother, with whom she still lives, and without a husband or a lover, Erika satisfies her strong but frequently perverse sexual appetites through extreme porn videos, voyeurism, and masturbatory practices that sometimes involve pain and self-mutilation. Erika discovers she has attracted the attentions of one of her students, Walter, a gifted and good-looking young man who does not seem at all put off by her icy personality. She refuses to acknowledge Walter's romantic overtures, but when he rises to the defense of a fellow student after a recital, Erika is enraged, and Walter pursues her, finally following her as she storms off to the women's room. Erika abruptly approaches Walter in a rough sexual fashion, but refuses to fully satisfy him until he is willing to allow her to control the relationship. When Walter becomes aware of just how much pain and humiliation is involved in Erika's erotic bill of fare, he refuses to participate. He then decides to give her a taste of what she was asking for which leads to her being raped on her living room floor. The next day at the concert she was supposed to be sitting in on, she stabs herself and runs out of the building.
 

Comments

Grim but excellent, 10 September 2002 Author: James McNally from Toronto, Canada I saw this film at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. La Pianiste reinforces the "Austrians=grim" thesis I'm formulating. Isabelle Huppert won a well-deserved Best Actress award at Cannes for her portrayal of a woman who, in her efforts to attain the artistic ideal, loses her humanity. Trapped by her talent, she suppresses her emotions and her sexuality until they can only be expressed in twisted and terrifying ways. When a younger student falls in love with her, our hopes rise, but are soon dashed by the realization that she cannot experience love the way others can. It is too late for her, and the film's final 30 harrowing minutes are, tellingly, devoid of the beautiful music that carried the first 90 minutes. The message seems to be that the music itself is not enough without the life and beauty it's describing.