Mon, 3 February 2020
From Adrian Martin, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die:
"In the clinical, highly formalized manner that has become his signature in such films as Benny's Video (1992), Michael Haneke strips away from The Piano Teacher the romantic lushness of the generic melodrama to expose a cold, alienated social structure founded on abuse. Adapted from Elfriede Jelinek's 1983 novel, the film delves into the psychosexual neuroses underlying, even generating, the intensity of classical art and the rituals we build around it.
"Isabelle Huppert gives the performance of her life as Erika Kohut, a respected but professionally unfulfilled piano teacher. Erika pursues illicit behavior that society considers masculine, from gazing at hardcore porn to insisting on her sexual preferences. But at every turn she is shunned or reviled, leading to extreme alienation and perversion.
"From the point that Erika and her infatuated student Walter (Benoit Magimel) connect, the film embarks on a relentless demonstration of the ways in which a man and a woman manage not to coalesce. We witness a grim parade of refusals, frustrations, misunderstandings, and violations. Throughout, Haneke engineers an odd, compelling kind of sympathy for Erika.
"The triumph of The Piano Teacher is to carefully place this interpersonal tragedy within the social contexts of patriarchy and high culture."
Have a comment or question for the host? Email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @1001MoviesPC.