Film / The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher (French: La Pianiste) is a 2001 erotic drama film directed by Michael Haneke, based on the novel Die Klavierspielerin by Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek.

Erika (Isabelle Huppert) is a piano professor at a Vienna music conservatory, living with her overbearing bitch of a mother (Annie Girardot) whom she both loves and hates, whose father is in a mental institution, and who, despite her conservative exterior, harbors an unparalleled repressed sadomasochistic sexual appetite inside her. This combination of factors has rendered her a bit on the irritable side, and she takes this out on her students by subjecting them to ruthless criticism.

At a recital one night, Erika meets prospectless engineering student Walter (Benoît Magimel). Though it takes a long time, and despite the fact that by all appearances they cannot stand the sight of one another, the two eventually become romantically involved, behind Erika's mother's back.

Not to be confused with The Pianist or The Piano.

This film provides examples of:

  • Bookends: The movie start and ends with Erika walking through a door.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: When Erika sees Walter flirting with one of her students, she breaks a glass and puts the shards in the student's coat pocket so she cuts her hands and can never play piano again. She stops just short of being a complete Yandere.
  • Jerkass: Erika comes off as this quite a lot of the time. See above.
  • Job Title: The movie title describes Erika's profession.
  • My Beloved Smother: Erika, aged around 40, is still single and living with her mother.
  • No Ending: The film ends without answering the resolve of Erika and Walter's relationship, and also not showing the aftermath of the concert Erika leaves behind.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: As usual with Haneke, all sound heard in the film is performed in-universe.
  • Silent Credits: Opening and closing credits roll in silence.
  • Sounding It Out: Walter reads Erika's letter out aloud to let the audience know of its content.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Erika's fellatio on Walter ends with her puking on the ground.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Erika's sick fantasies bring out the worst in Walter and he starts to hit her vigorously.