The Piano Teacher

Director: Michael Haneke
Year Released: 2001
Rating: 3.5

What I feared would be another case of sexual repression morphs into something a lot more unsettling under the cruel but steady hand of Haneke, known for his unflinching interest in masochism and human sickness. Isabelle Huppert, a cruel and demanding piano instructor, starts up a "relationship" with a promising young pianist who gets involved in her tormented mind games. The almost unreal cleanliness of Haneke's sets (the bathroom looks like it's never been used) and the impeccable visual composition (reminiscent of Kubrick's films) clash with the depraved instability of his characters; the dynamics of the teacher-student relationship are intricate but plausible, and the lack of a definite resolution defies typical cinematic convention.