The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)


The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 86


Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,090
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The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) Photos

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.

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Isabelle Huppert
as Erika Kohut
Annie Girardot
as The Mother
Benoît Magimel
as Walter Klemmer
Susanne Lothar
as Mrs. Schober
Udo Samel
as Dr. Blonskij
Anna Sigalevitch
as Anna Schober
Cornelia Kondgen
as Mme Blonskij
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News & Interviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

Critic Reviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

All Critics (86) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (23)

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

    Nov 4, 2002 | Rating: A-
  • It is depressing, ruthlessly pained and depraved, the movie equivalent of staring into an open wound.

    Sep 19, 2002 | Rating: 2/5
  • A gripping psychological thriller that, while lacking the power of Funny Games, is still the work of a master.

    Aug 30, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 16, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • A striking, brilliant film with extraordinary performances -- and Huppert's acting is heartrending.

    Jul 20, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Is like The Graduate remade by David Lynch; it's no picnic to watch, but you can't look away.

    Jun 21, 2002 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste)

  • Jun 11, 2013
    An amazing performance from Isabelle Huppert expressing strange sexual desires after a life of loneliness and a strange upbringing. She brings her all to the role.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2013
    Michael Haneke has never been a subtle filmmaker; all of his movies are, to varying degrees, difficult to watch. The Piano Teacher is one of his most provocative and disturbing works yet, and like many of his other movies it is not light-watching. Don't be misled by the R-rating it's been branded with, as it's far more severe than a typical R-rated drama. That said, Michael Haneke makes challenging movies, but they are never shallow or trashy, and that goes for The Piano Teacher as well. Despite the graphic nature of the movie, there is actually a compelling story to back it up and an astounding performance from frequent Haneke collaborator Isabelle Huppert in the starring role. Had someone less experienced been playing her role, the movie might have easily come off as laughable at best. She delivers bizarrely perverse dialogue at times, but she is so convincing that the movie still maintains a deadly serious tone. It's not easy to watch, and at times it seems excessively disturbing, but The Piano Teacher definitely has an engaging story and impressive performances to make it another successful cinematic exercise from Haneke, albeit one that will without a doubt be too shocking for most people.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 02, 2013
    Rating: 2 stars Arthouse Rating: 2.5 stars- The Piano Teacher had one ginormous problem, it was the protagonist Erika Kohut. She's the most irritating character ever put on screen. Egotistic, naive, uptight, selfish, she just had awful qualities. Therefore even the final scene couldn't draw pity out of me. Was Haneke really trying to make the mother seem like the pest? Because if that was the intent he has it reversed. The cinematographer Christian Berger did a phenomenal job, no wonder Haneke had re-casted him for future projects. Also the film editing made this smooth in transition, not a single scene was over bearing for me. Technical wise this film was brilliant, but the characters and story couldn't meet these achievements. Therefore this film fell flat, and truly it wasn't that disturbing.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2013
    Why is it that piano and music related films invite us to explode either our most heartwarming feelings or our bestiality and sexual impulses, therefore forcing us either way to allow the feelings and fantasies to govern the rationale? Jane Campion is an example. The violin would occupy the second place among musical instruments... With "Funny Games" fragments and the same intentions to make violence realistic, tense and emotionally disturbing, La Pianiste is brilliant enough to showcase a demented orgy of neurotic and aberrant behaviors, inviting us to look away but cruelly making it impossible to miss a moment. 92/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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