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The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) (2001)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 81
Fresh: 59 | Rotten: 22

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


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 4

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



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 19,348

My Rating

Movie Info

How far is a man willing to go to be with the woman he wants? Erika (Isabelle Huppert) 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 (Annie


Musical & Performing Arts, Drama

Michael Haneke

Jan 9, 2007


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All Critics (97) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (22) | DVD (7)

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

November 4, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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It is depressing, ruthlessly pained and depraved, the movie equivalent of staring into an open wound.

September 19, 2002 | Comment (1)
Orlando Sentinel
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A gripping psychological thriller that, while lacking the power of Funny Games, is still the work of a master.

August 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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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
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A striking, brilliant film with extraordinary performances -- and Huppert's acting is heartrending.

July 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
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Is like The Graduate remade by David Lynch; it's no picnic to watch, but you can't look away.

June 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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[Huppert gives] the single finest performance I have ever seen her give, and therefore almost by default one of the best of the decade.

February 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

A film of Artaudian cruelty, and a boundary-breaker in the cinema's exploration of its own erotic and artisanal id.

July 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

A revolting and shocking work devoid of redemption and purpose.

August 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Oregon Herald | Comment (1)

If genital mutilation, rape, incest and twisted acts of sexual gratification are your thing, then this is the film for you. Any takers?

February 13, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland) | Comments (2)

It's a harrowing, difficult film that's only for the most adventurous art-house movie fans.

January 30, 2003 Full Review

[Isabelle Huppert] outdoes herself.

November 20, 2002
Creative Loafing

Will leave audiences cold and not a little depressed.

October 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

An unflinching view into sexual sadism, starkly contrasted against a background of Rachmaninov, Schubert and Bach.

October 10, 2002 Full Review
Des Moines Register

Haneke keeps us at arm's length. Guided more by intellect than heart, his story flattens instead of sharpens.

September 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

The Piano Teacher is the sort of movie that discourages American audiences from ever wanting to see another foreign film.

August 16, 2002 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City | Comments (2)
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Huppert gives Erika a persona that is so intriguing that you find yourself staring hypnotically at her, trying to understand her and wondering if she'll crack.

July 16, 2002 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Disturbing yet provocative.

July 14, 2002 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

To get at the root psychology of this film would require many sessions on the couch of Dr. Freud.

July 13, 2002 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The Piano Teacher does not have a sentimental bone in its body, and is smugly difficult for this reason.

July 11, 2002
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A frustrating exercise in the hormonal detours of human nature.

July 9, 2002
Palo Alto Weekly

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.
April 11, 2007

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.
May 25, 2012
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.
September 10, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

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May 24, 2009:
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Michael Haneke took Cannes' top honour tonight as his film, The White Ribbon, won the prestigious...

Foreign Titles

  • Die Klavierspielerin (DE)
  • The Piano Teacher (UK)
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