La Pianiste (2001. Grand Jury Winner)

La Pianiste | The Piano Teacher | 피아니스트 (2001)  NC-17

Dir. Michael Haneke

Nominated for Golden Palm. Winner of Best Actress (Isabelle Hupert) and Best Actor (Benoit Magimel) and Grand Jury Prize

Today I watched THE PIANIST. Film by Michael Haneke. I’ve known about this film for a while; since I was much younger; and I also knew that this film would be rather forbidden to me, despite the innocuous title, despite the surprising yet common film cover. Later when I learned about the other films of Haneke and how upsetting and unsettling they are, I decided this film can wait a bit till I am mature and ready. I watched it last night and then finished it this morning (yes, I fell asleep but it’s not because the film was bad; I was just extremely tired) but like this, I was able to finish it in the morning of a national holiday– a very much family day and relaxing day. The sexuality delved within the film, yes, very bizarre and grotesque; but it was bearable. The acting superb– no wonder the leading actor and actress (Benoit Magimel and Isabelle Hupert) won Cannes awards for that year. Film missed La Palme D’or but it won Grand Jury. Good enough.  Left me with a feeling of question and “uh??” at the director’s choice for making such film delving into such character, Isabelle Hupert’s thoughts at the character she played, what juries of Cannes were thinking when “stab!” “walk out” happened, followed by the screen turning to black to roll in the credits… et cetera … c’est trop bizarre …  piano music throughout the film was exquisite, though.  I loved the beginning– how the music continues to be cut off by the black screen/title card shown.  It created a certain feeling and hard to describe that in words, but you’d know what I mean if you watched it.

A mixture of ferocious booing, wild applause and stunned silence greeted the Cannes competition entry from Austrian director Michael Haneke — (can you just imagine? a bunch of older film elites, directors, prestigeous programmers and maybe professors– in the theater, screaming and booing and fighting over each other?!) The Piano Teacher is not a film that allows of any moments of comedy or gentleness, and is therefore arguably deficient in humanity. But its compositional brilliance and poise can’t be doubted – and nor can the tremendous performance from Huppert herself.  — Peter Bradshaw for Guardian

Erika is so immersed in the world of art that she imagines that the transcendent paradox of great Romantic music — it maintains a magisterial control even while losing its mind — applies to life as well as art. The saddest message of this almost-great film may be that art and life are not the same and should not be confused.  — Stephen Holden of New York Times


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