¿The Piano Teacher¿ is a powerful and controversial new drama from the award winning filmmaker Michael Haneke. Isabelle Huppert (Merci pour le Chocolat, Amateur) gives a performance of astounding emotional intensity as Erika Kohut, a repressed woman in her thirties who teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory and lives with her tyrannical mother (Annie Girardot), with whom she has a volatile love-hate relationship. But when one of Erika's students, the handsome and assured Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel), attempts to seduce her, the barriers that she has carefully erected around her claustrophobic world are shattered, unleashing a previously inhibited extreme and incontrollable desire.
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The Piano Teacher is an intriguing and often nauseating film. A woman far too close to her mother finds solace in Adult Porn booths and a young man who wants to express himself. He is musically gifted but young in the ways of human behaviour. It is a story of him seeking her. I can see how the film has won awards. There is no music save for the piano playing. I loved the overhead shots of the playing. No scene is faded, everything is jump cut. This helps the immediacy of the intense personal problems of the woman protagonist. Moments are captured. If the film suffers from the often vile intimacies this is only due to my loathing of the same. Fortunately the narrative is very interesting: the idea of safe, middle-class, middle-aged, woman embroiled in the seamier side of sexual desire does keep you watching. And the filmmakers skill in recording her despair adds to the two hour, certificate 18 movie.
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