Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A 14-year-old video enthusiast is so caught up in film fantasy that he can no longer relate to the real world, to such an extent that he commits murder and records an on-camera confession for his parents.
A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.
Erika Kohut is a pianist, teaching music. Schubert and Schumann are her forte, but she's not quite at concert level. She's approaching middle age, living with her mother who is domineering then submissive; Erika is a victim then combative. With her students she is severe. She visits a sex shop to watch DVDs; she walks a drive-in theater to stare at couples having sex. Walter is a self-assured student with some musical talent; he auditions for her class and is forthright in his attraction to her. She responds coldly then demands he let her lead. Next she changes the game with a letter, inviting him into her fantasies. How will he respond; how does sex have power over our other faculties? Written by
Isabelle Huppert really played the piano in the film. She had studied piano for 12 years. As preparation for her role as a piano teacher, she resumed practicing a year before the film was started. See more »
As with all Haneke films, make your own decision--don't be swayed by what you read and if you are interested in someone using the medium of film for their own unique ends, see it yourself. Isabelle Huppert is stunning in this film--combined with Haneke, these two never pull their punches. Haneke reels us in with the lure of golden boy, Benoit Magimel, but this is an anti-romance as much as Funny Games was an anti-thriller. You'll have to force yourself to watch much of it and the catharsis is much more in the range of sustained anxiety than any kind of emotional release but it's incredibly nervy and thought provoking; Haneke continues to hold up a mirror to how desensitised Western civilization is or has become. People may turn their noses up at this but it's only taking what Solondz did in Happiness a few steps further. While grounded in reality, much of what Erika (Huppert) does can be viewed as emotional metaphor. I'm not recommending it but I wouldn't dissuade you either...it definitely divides people but given it's largely about repression--that's no surprise.
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