The Piano Teacher

I originally downloaded this as part of "Michael Haneke" week of the 2017 Film School Dropouts challenge, but didn't get around to watching it until last month. Against my better judgement, I keep watching Haneke films on a regular basis, in the hopes that I'll finally understand why so many otherwise intelligent people admire him so much (he's a regular winner on the festival circuit, for those who don't know, and is adored by the academic art-film crowd); yet after every screening of his, I find it impossible to categorize my experience in any other way than that I was just a witness to a piece of hateful, worthless cruelty porn, from a member of that fascinating but often maddening nationality (Germans, that is) who have been such masters over the decades of turning hate and cruelty into a fine art form. Make no mistake, no matter how many good things you've heard about it, The Piano Teacher is a two-hour experiment in seeing how much a movie can wallow in its own filth and shit while still managing to keep viewers in their seats; the story of The Most Mentally Deranged Classical Piano Player in History, which is saying quite a bit, our utterly unredeemable anti-villain Erika (Isabelle Huppert, in the role that made her an international star) brings nothing but chaos and violence to every poor son of a bitch who happens to randomly cross her path, leaving a trail of emotional and physical destruction that serves to illustrate the bleak, nihilistic void which is human existence.

I get that there are people who like movies like this; what I'm saying is that you people terrify me, and that I now use Haneke as a kind of litmus test when meeting intriguing new film fans, to determine whether I should run the hell away from said new fans as quickly as my feet can carry me. I'm still devoted to this Haneke week of the Film School Dropout challenge, and so will be making my way through more of his oeuvre as this year continues, including The Seventh Continent (in which a man slaughters his family one day for no particular reason), Benny's Video (in which a teenager goes on a shooting rampage one day for no particular reason), Cache (in which a stalker terrorizes a middle-class couple for no particular reason), and The White Ribbon (in which a small village suddenly decides one day to start torturing and killing all its children for no particular reason); but to be clear, I'm not expecting to actually like any of them, and am hoping for nothing more than to at least understand by the end why other people do.

Jason Pettus liked these reviews