The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) (2001)



Critic Consensus: Though it makes for rather unpleasant viewing, The Piano Teacher is a riveting and powerful psychosexual drama.

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Movie Info

Erika Kohut is a piano teacher at the Vienna Conservatory prestigious music school in Vienna. In her early forties and single, she lives with her overprotective and controlling mother in a hermetically sealed world of love-hate and dependency, where there is no room for men. Her sex life consists of voyeurism and masochistic self-injury. Lonely and alienated, Erika finds solace by visiting sex shops and experimenting with masochism. Ata a recital, she befriends Walter, a handsome young man, whom she seduces and with whom she begins an illicit affair. As Erika slowly drifts closer to the brink of emotional disorder, she uses the love-stricken Walter to explore her darkest sado-masochistic fantasies, which eventually lead to her undoing.more
Rating: R (for aberrant sexuality including violence, and for language)
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Michael Haneke
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 9, 2007
MK2 Diffusion - Official Site

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Isabelle Huppert
as Erika Kohut
Benoît Magimel
as Walter Klemmer
Annie Girardot
as The Mother
Susanne Lothar
as Mrs. Schober
Udo Samel
as Dr. Blonskij
Anna Sigalevitch
as Anna Schober
Cornelia Kondgen
as Mme Blonskij
Georg Friedrich
as Man in Drive-in
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

Critic Reviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (32)

This is a penetrating, deeply disturbing examination of desire and loneliness, of desperation and self-denial.

November 4, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

It is depressing, ruthlessly pained and depraved, the movie equivalent of staring into an open wound.

September 19, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A gripping psychological thriller that, while lacking the power of Funny Games, is still the work of a master.

Full Review… | August 30, 2002
Miami Herald
Top Critic

It is as unlikely that you have ever seen another movie like The Piano Teacher as it is that you will ever want to see another one.

August 16, 2002
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

A striking, brilliant film with extraordinary performances -- and Huppert's acting is heartrending.

Full Review… | July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Is like The Graduate remade by David Lynch; it's no picnic to watch, but you can't look away.

Full Review… | June 21, 2002
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

Formidable! What a performance by Huppert. But grim. Ouch, I had hit pause three times to get through it.

Art-house erotica done... again.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

A sexually repressed piano teacher falls for one of her students.
Isabelle Huppert plays Erica with a reserved but volcanic sexuality that comes through in all her moments of compelling silence. Her performance is nuanced and courageous, especially when Erica's more vulnerable side is revealed. Hers is a character who begins being interesting when she fights with her mother, gets uninteresting when we realize how boring her day-to-day life is, and remains interesting for the rest of the film after she cuts her own vagina with a razor blade and spends her free time in a porn shop watching the quarter peep show films.
I was once in a creative writing workshop, and someone asked me why my character was the way he was. I didn't know how to answer. "Because that's just the way he is," I wanted to reply. But after watching The Piano Teacher, I understand the question better because it's the one flaw in the film. Why is Erica the way she is? What causes her disconnect from people? Her mother can't be blamed for everything, can she? This is where subtle backstory about her past relationships and her early development would've been enlightening.
Overall, I liked The Piano Teacher, especially Huppert's performance, but I still think there's something important missing in the character's construction.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Disturbing and indecent, but a brilliant character dichotomy exploring themes on desires and depression. The Piano Teacher is an honest and daring wild arousal to curiosity. Remarks a rhetorical question, "what is your dark secret?" Harrowing.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

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