Watching Piano Teacher – Dark, Must Watch Film

(Recommended by SI reader a4apple)

Finally, getting around to watching La Pianiste a.k.a The Piano Teacher.

Directed by Michael Haneke, this French movie (with English subtitles) was nominated for a bunch of awards.

Released in 2001, the 125-minute film features Isabelle Huppert as the piano teacher and Benoit Magimel as her student.

The movie is based on Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek’s novel.

We’ll update this post after we finish watching the movie.

The Piano Teacher is a different kind of movie.

Not meant for the Bollywood or Kollywood addicted sniveling little twits, this is a compelling but dark movie with its offbeat story of a masochistic piano teacher Erika (Isabelle Huppert).

While Erika is shown to be a masochistic personality, she’s also cold-bloodedly sadistic, a fact demonstrated by what she does to one of her students.

To describe Isabelle Huppert as an accomplished actress would be a gross understatement. This was most definitely a challenging role but Isabelle rose splendidly to the occasion.

So we were not in the least bit surprised to learn (after watching the movie) that she had won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 for her role in The Piano Teacher.

At the same festival, Isabelle’s co-star Benoit Magimel picked up the Best Actor award.

As her student, who is initially attracted but later repulsed but then does what she demands of him, Magimel was a joy to behold. As was Annie Girardot, who plays Isabelle’s mother.

A word of caution though. With sexually explicit scenes, this is not a movie that you can watch with young children.

The rather abrupt ending left us a bit befuddled.

But then perfect endings are rare in life.

If you live in the U.S., you can rent The Piano Teacher from Netflix.

By the way, we’ve taken to listening to Schubert on YouTube after watching this movie.

14 Responses to "Watching Piano Teacher – Dark, Must Watch Film"

  1. ShikhariShambhu   June 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    i’ve read the book….v. disturbing!

  2. bob   June 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    its disturbing that i didn’t watch this movie Responds:

    Why not?

    BTW, do you speak French?

  3. bob   June 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    i dont speak French.
    I watch with subtitles.

    do u speak French ? Responds:


    But isn’t French widely spoken in your country?

  4. ShikhariShambhu   June 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    i speak french. Responds:

    Merci, mademoiselle.

  5. shadowfax_arbit   June 22, 2009 at 7:13 am

    French I saw The Dreamers. After that, I decided not to watch any French movies. 🙂 Responds:

    The Dreamers looks interesting. 😉

    Just added it to our Netflix list. Will watch it in the near future.

  6. Ænima Of The State   June 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

    @shadowfax_arbit: Why would you not want to watch French movies.. The Dreamers has some of the most luscious (Eva Green with dress on is luscious enough, but without them .. don’t have words to describe them!) scenes.. did you watch the NC-17 version or a network cable version? SI, please be sure that get the “original uncut” version.

    Another French movie that I won’t forget for similar reasons is “La Belle Noiseuse”.. move over, Bollywood movies.. this one is 237 minutes long.. and Beart will be modelling for 3 hours out of those 4 hours. Ebert has added to his great movies collection.. Responds:

    Added La Belle Noiseuse to our Netflix queue.

    Here is a different version of Roger Ebert’s review of La Belle Noiseuse written 17 years earlier. Found the link to the older review on Netflix.

  7. shadowfax_arbit   June 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Agree that “those” scenes are amazing, not so dramatized but natural and erotic.

    But the movie as such, for me it is lil disturbing. I guess it is because it makes me go into some world for sometime after the movie, say if I watch it alone. Responds:

    In a week or so, we’ll tell you if we found Dreamers as ‘disturbing.’

  8. Ænima Of The State   June 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    You said I guess it is because it makes me go into some world for sometime after the movie, say if I watch it alone.

    I didn’t understand that properly (probably because you left out some word to qualify what type of world you would go into), but if whatever I understood is right, that is disturbing. Stay away from these type of movies that trigger “unakkulla thoongitirukka mirugam”
    from my most favorite Kamal movie.. don’t know why I liked that movie so much..

    SI, have you watched Mudhal Mariyadhai? Arguably Sivaji Ganesan’s best movie. Responds:

    No, we haven’t watched Mudhal Mariyadhai.

    Back when we were young, there was a stout fellow called Muruga (from somewhere in the Palani/Ottanchathiram area) who loved to sleep a lot. The other fellows constantly used to badger him starting with Muruga enthiri and soon smoothly slipping into Miragam enthiri. We never could figure out whom they were trying to rouse from the slumber. 😉

  9. Ænima Of The State   June 22, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    RBXTHXU6 – used this to pick up Gran Torino. Valid for tonight and tomorrow. They also had Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road.. but based on your recommendation I went with GT. Responds:

    Most likely, you’ll enjoy Gran Torino.

    OK, will go out & check what they have at our local RB. Here we go.

    Thanks for the code.

  10. a4apple   June 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    If I could use a cliche I would say, my life as a movie viewer can be divided in to two, before watching Francis Truffaut and after. He was French. Any movie directed by this great master of cinema is a sure bet, you can add it to your list, my favorite is “The man who loved women.”

    I have seen dreamers and Bernardo Bertolucci is a genius. Dreamers may not be a great movie especially when compared with his own earlier works. But I can’t deny or ignore the visual excellence that this great master brings into his works.

    Finally, thanks to SI for considering my suggestion. What I liked about this movie is, it is a dark movie but not one of those cliched dark movies that we have seen all these years isn’t? Technically, the film isn’t dark the content is. Responds:

    In a gazillion years, Indian movie-makers can never dream of making a movie like The Piano Teacher.

    We have neither the directors nor talented actresses like Isabelle Huppert.

    Only if there’s a tsunami wiping out the current lot of worthless trash can there be any hope for Indian cinema.

    Most of the crucial scenes in The Piano Teacher were shot indoor except for two or three like the one at the drive-in movie, the two scenes at the magazine store et al (readers: don’t worry we are not giving away anything here).

    We bring up this ‘indoor’ filming because the other day we read that a Kollywood crew had gone over to Iceland. Yes, Iceland.

    BTW, were you aware that Isabelle was President of the Jury at the recent Cannes Film Festival, from 13 May to 24 May 2009 (source: Wiki)

  11. a4apple   June 25, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Thanks for the info SI. The glamor factor has crept into almost all the important festivals and to see a balanced jury is a rare occurrence these days. Oscar and BAFTA differ in this matter due to its democratic set up though some criticize it for political undercurrents. There is a ‘stupid’ controversy going on these days on Gowriker’s comments on Priyanka at IFFA (I honestly believe that it was another script written on the lines of Bruno and eminem). Sorry for change of topic but I am waiting for Bruno!

    There is this funny anecdote in my life. Almost ten years ago I visited Paris. At that time to me (to an extent still is) Akira Kurosawa, Vittorio De Sica and Satyajit Ray were the finest directors of all the time. My love for De Sica was so much so that I believed Cannes is in Italy. Though not a follower of tennis I visited Roland Garros and brought some mud from one of the courts for a friend of mine claiming that it had the sweat of Martina Hingis. It was much later that I realized how idiotic I was for not knowing the exact location of Cannes.
    I repaid not exactly with the same coin. Early this year while in Munich I flew to Berlin on a weekend and went around seeing all the important venues of Berlin Film Festival. I am going to ‘revisit’ Paris one day. Responds:

    You write: At that time to me (to an extent still is) Akira Kurosawa, Vittorio De Sica and Satyajit Ray were the finest directors of all the time. My love for De Sica was so much so that I believed Cannes is in Italy

    We’ve seen De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette a.k.a. The Bicycle Thief and Ray’s Charulata. Both are, of course, classics (in black and white).

    We’ve yet to see any of Kurosawa’s films.

  12. Ãnima Of The State   June 25, 2009 at 10:00 am

    10 years ago, We didn’t know who De Sica (We knew Kurosawa and Ray, but they didn’t know us.. probably because they had died by then) was, but We knew where Cannes was 🙂 13 years ago, We got an autograph from Hingis, when she was still ascending to the #1 ranking (was #8 at that time, We think — We had accurately predicted that she’d be #1 within a year from then).. We wrote down “I will let [Our name] let drive my Porsche till I get my driver’s license” and got her to sign underneath.. she gave us an amused look, which We loved.. We bought a camera and binoculars just for this occasion, but the camera wouldn’t work.. don’t remember why. If I remember correctly she was defeated by choker Novotna that day. but guess who had more autograph-seekers!

  13. kartik001   September 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    thanx for the review. However, did you watch Darren Aronofsy directed film “Requiem For A Dream”. I recommend you to watch it. I thought its one of a kind film making. Responds:

    Requiem For A Dream looks very interesting. Just skimmed through the Wiki profile. RT rating of 79%. Impressive.

    Will definitely watch it one of these days.

  14. 1012900   February 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Have u watched any of the SAW movies?

    I’ve watched part 1 and 2. Responds:

    No, just skimmed through the Wiki profile.

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