The Piano Teacher Screen 16 articles

The Piano Teacher

2001

The Piano Teacher Poster
  • Haneke scores in the pairing of Huppert with Annie Girardot as her monstrous mother..., but cannot solve the script problem which requires her admirer Klemmer to turn from a promising Schoenberg virtuoso into a woman-battering rapist virtually overnight. And he's defeated by the challenge of making the broken glass/hand-maiming incident convincing physically, never mind psychologically. Overall, the film misses the brilliance of Jelinek's novel by some way. It settles for being merely grim.

  • For me, a few of Michael Haneke's features are first-rate (The Seventh Continent, The Castle, Code Unknown) but most of the others replay formulas other filmmakers have handled with more style and originality. [...This film] approaches the latter category, although critic Robin Wood has made interesting observations about Haneke's subtle use of music.

  • There are complex themes at play in this scene. Erika, who at this point seems unable to achieve sexual satisfaction with a partner, needs the potential consequences of transgressing a public space to arouse herself... Yet the filmmaker, as in Funny Games, places himself above the viewer by relishing his role as omniscient puppeteer. In doing this, it's as if Haneke claims an exemption from being implicated in the pleasures of watching.

  • There’s an overwhelming sense here that Huppert understands Erika more than Haneke. As a result, the film’s finale plays out like an uncompromising battle of intents. Haneke use of the long take is startling and aggressive and while he seems geared to punish Erika for her masochistic fantasies, Huppert defends the authenticity of the character’s desires. In essence, Haneke rapes while Huppert stoically resists.

  • Haneke’s fortissimo method overwhelms much of Jelinek’s feminist critique. (It’s no coincidence that the novelist was singled out by Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party as a maker of “degenerate art.”) Nothing in the movie can match the subtlety of Huppert’s hopeful anticipation as her putative lover reads the disgusting letter aloud. Given the movie’s literary antecedents, it’s fitting that its greatest transgression would be the articulation of a written scenario.

  • A searing and vague portrayal of mental instability. Never quite clear, but impossible not to watch, Mr. Haneke has crafted a slow and rhythmic tale filled with two remarkable performances and a story that is essentially unexplained but compelling to both observe and interpret.

  • My own feeling is that Haneke is certainly intelligent enough to be aware that it is precisely the past that has produced our present and that in any case returning is impossible... One cannot say... that Haneke provides answers to the contemporary sickness: no one else has any, so why should he? What he can, and does, do is throw an extraordinarily vivid and searching light on certain major aspects of western culture's progressive deterioration, and he does so in a way that demands response.

  • Haneke engineers an odd and compelling kind of sympathy for Erika. The moment she gives away her haughty, dominating posture for the sake of passion, she loses everything. The more she tries to fit Walter's image of ideal femininity, the weaker and more pathetic she becomes. The Piano Teacher is an extraordinary study of emotional abuse.

  • Without Huppert, The Piano Teacher might have been implausible and silly, a gratuitous torture chamber with transparent psychology and little connection to reality; with her, it's horrific and devastating... On the few occasions when Huppert's rigid façade crumbles to dust, The Piano Teacher exposes emotions so raw that they trump all the mechanized violence and degradation the film could ever dream up.

  • It reflects upon the complex ways in which behaviours and roles can be repeated and adapted by individuals, within and without traditional boundaries. Boiled down here is a symbiotic spiral of action and repression perpetuated by social norms and expectations. This film presents a compelling slice of life whilst interrogating with extraordinary discipline the formal predicates which encase both the film and its protagonist.

  • Haneke likes to rattle your brain _and_ moral center, making you ruminate long and hard on what you’ve just witnessed. With The Piano Teacher, it might be when our fine character lies in a bathtub and...I'll get to that moment later. The Piano Teacher, as squirm inducing as it can become, may be the director's most powerfully unsettling, erotic and at times, comic film.

  • I relish nothing more than watching any world-class actress tearing into a complicated part, and the ferocious precision of what Isabelle Huppert concocts here—vengeful, expert, supercilious, tamped-down, lonely, and volcanically perverse—is something that no other actress in years has equalled. In combination, these separate marks of the film's distinction yield images and sequences so blunt and shattering in their affective immediacy that the film is that rare thing—literally unforgettable.

  • Erika smashes all existing norms and standards when it comes to what fresh hell can be shown or acted on screen. Huppert brings acting into new and perilous territories here, even if those new territories have sometimes led her astray in her subsequent work. Still and all, if you do something on the high level of Huppert’s performance in “The Piano Teacher,” you don’t need to do anything else. The only reaction possible to this performance is amazement at how far out she went with this role.

  • Haneke uses Huppert's gaze and frames her face to fully transmit that his portrait is of a lady who’s not right in the head. Huppert’s close-ups, most of them reactions to things that we only ultimately glimpses (if we see them at all), show that Haneke doesn’t need to show us more than those little demonstrations of self-harm to construct the relationship between Huppert’s piano teacher and her student, which descends into an exploration of consent, sanity and the limits of pleasure.

  • The success of The Piano Teacher is as much a product of its lead performer as it is its director. Huppert gives Erika’s contradictory behaviour nuance and vitality, while Haneke’s restrained style allows us to attend to the complexity of her performance. Erika’s stern declaration that she lacks feelings is undermined by the obstinacy of her body which conveys much more than she would like.

  • The Piano Teacher mostly eschews historical and sociological questions. Instead, it stakes its claim on the continued vitality of an endangered European tradition—not classical music but the art cinema itself. Positing a masochistic spectator who wants to suffer through a film like this one, it makes a bid to turn us into teachers—or its transmitters. The paradox is that it works, and that this may mean accepting, as Erika muses in the novel, that “art is no consolation.”

More Links