Saturday, February 15, 2014
THE PIANO TEACHER (2001)
Erika Kohut is a piano teacher who lives what outwardly appears to be a very normal life - she has a job teaching piano at a highly prestigious music conservatory and lives alone with her elderly mother - but upon closer inspection...well. Early on she mentions of nineteenth century composer Robert Schumann: "He knows he's losing his mind. It torments him but he clings on, one last time. It's being aware of what it means to lose oneself before being completely abandoned." I'm not a hundred percent convinced that Erika is losing her mind and feels it going, but she definitely does not have control of her repressed sexual desires. Our first clue, besides the long creepy stares at the teenage Walter is when she sneaks off to a porn shop, goes into a private booth and holds old used cumrags to her nose as she watches deepthroat videos. From there on it only gets weirder...much weirder.
On the one hand I felt sorry for Erika because it almost seems that if she had a mature and understanding sexual partner all of her problems would be solved, but then when she pulls out the broken glass and large knife I started to doubt my initial opinion.
Whatever the real story with Erika is, THE PIANO TEACHER is a wildly fascinating film that I'll be thinking about for quite awhile. I might even read the novel to get a more in-depth view. That said the movie itself is great and Isabelle Huppert turns in a staggeringly brave performance. Beautiful photography, good pace, strong direction and that story! Holy fook. Highly recommended. I wouldn't be opposed to somebody making an even more intense/perverse remake.