Erika (Isabelle Huppert) teaches classical piano in a cold and often abrasive style. Approaching middle age, Erika lives with her doting mother (Annie Girardot) and still sleeps in the same bed with her. Erika's social life consists of occasionally sneaking away to a peep show where she secretly comes into contact with perverse passion, often using the discarded trash of previous customers. Her beautiful piano playing seduces youthful Walter (Benoit Magimel), who then takes the instructor's advanced class. Walter reveals his desire during a class session. Erika reacts curiously, presenting a long list of cruel, humiliating sexual acts she would like him to perform on her. Meanwhile, the teacher also torments a talented student (Anna Sigalevitch) who is already plagued by her own fears. Michael Haneke (CODE UNKNOWN) directed this unflinching allegorical tale of cruelty. The film caused a stir at the Cannes Film Festival where it was controversial not only for its subject matter, but also because it won multiple awards there--the Grand Prize and acting awards for both Huppert and Magimel--despite leaving many audience members outraged. Based on a novel by Elfriede Jelinek, the film features numerous classical piano sonatas banged out in an aggressive style.
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