Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) is a Viennese piano teacher in her forties who agrees to have an affair with a much younger man (Benoît Magimel)… as long as he fulfills her desire to be punished. The film’s greatest asset is its actors. Huppert delivers one of the most stunning performances of her career as the piano teacher; Magimel is equally good as her young lover who also realizes things about himself and what he is capable of. The Vienna setting is cool and elegant. Michael Haneke and Elfriede Jelinek make us suffer through all the horrors of her story. Many critics loved the movie, but some of us do not feel that we have a genuinely satisfying pay-off.
2001-France-Austria. 130 min. Color. Written and directed by Michael Haneke. Novel: Elfriede Jelinek. Cast: Isabelle Huppert (Erika Kohut), Benoît Magimel (Walter Klemmer), Annie Girardot (Mrs. Kohut), Anna Sigalevitch, Susanne Lothar.
Trivia: Original title: La Pianiste. Jeanne Moreau was allegedly offered the part of Erika’s mother. Huppert is actually very good at playing the piano; she studied it for 12 years.
Cannes: Jury Prize, Best Actor (Magimel), Actress (Huppert). European Film Awards: Best Actress (Huppert).