Year: 2001
USA: MK2 Diffusion
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Magimel, Annie Girardot, Anna Sigalevitch, Susanne Lother, Udo Samel, Cornelia Kondgen
Director: Michael Haneke
Countries: Austria / France
Language: French (English subtitles)
USA: 130 mins
UK: 129 mins
UK Certificate: 18 contains strong language, violence, sexual violence, sex and sado-masochism theme
USA Release Date: 12 April 2002 (Limited Release - Los Angeles)
USA Release Date: 29 March 2002 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 9 November 2001


For many THE PIANO TEACHER was the most compelling and extraordinary film at this year's Cannes Film Festival where it won three awards: the Grand Prix de Jury for Best Film, Best Actress (Isabelle Huppert), Best Actor (Benoit Magimel).

Based on the best selling novel of the same name by the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek, it tells the story of Erica Kohut Isabelle Huppert), a woman who has been brought up by her mother solely to achieve the status of a successful pianist. Her solitary childhood was filled with music, which left her alone and isolated from the lives of others, with the consequence that she was unable to establish any sexual identity. Her difficulty in communicating with others has left her living with her ageing and tyrannical mother in isolation. Her only source of escapism is through her music, her piano teaching and her curiosity about sex.

This curiosity of soon forced into reality, with the advances of one of Erica's adult pupils, Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel), a fair-haired and athletic young man who tries to seduce his older teacher. Erica soon finds herself unable to resist Walter's advances through her desire to 'live' life. This she can only do, however, in the context of the perversion of masochism and insists in establishing the terms and nature of physical contact between them...

Both Huppert and Magimel put in remarkably brave performances in this controversial psychodrama, offering an unsentimental portrait of voyeurism, sadomasochism and cultural oppression. The beautifully edited piano lessons themselves provide the only music heard in the film, thus the music becomes a part of the film itself.