Haneke’s Obsessions

Rating: NNNTHE PIANO TEACHER (Michael Haneke) features a tour-de-force performance by Isabelle Huppert as repressed Viennese piano professor Erika, who's.


Rating: NNN

THE PIANO TEACHER (Michael Haneke) features a tour-de-force performance by Isabelle Huppert as repressed Viennese piano professor Erika, who’s pursued by cocky male student Walter (Benoit Magimel). Erika lives with her mother, and their troubled codependent relationship — they sleep in the same bed — clues us in to the sexual deviance of the supremely controlled instructor. She goes to porn cinemas, spies on couples making out at the drive-in and ritually slices her genitals. When Walter proclaims his love for her, Erika wants him to abuse her. Haneke’s (Benny’s Video) fondness for violence is well-documented, and while his evocation of the S&M realm is not entirely successful — repetitive scenes of sexual violence test our patience — his exploration of female sexuality is compelling. Huppert is chillingly good as Erika. In scenes where she is physically frozen, we can see her thinking and composing sexual fantasies that would shock the Marquis de Sade. 129 minutes. NNN

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