Thirty-five minutes into the movie The Piano Teacher, there occurs an indelible scene. In a dim bathroom cluttered with drugstore label sprays, lotions, and other feeble concoctions designed to fend off decay, a middle-aged woman in a silk robe briskly zips open her pocketbook and removes a folded slip of paper, which she unfolds to reveal a razor blade. Armed with this instrument, she turns around, slips off her flip flops, opens her robe, and sits on the edge of her bathtub with her legs splayed. She moves resolutely but without authority, with a kind of robotic resolve, as if she were complying rather than presiding, mechanically obeying an inner necessity. The camera displays her in profile. A pink hand mirror rests on a ledge by the tub among bottles of various shapes and sizes. She snatches up the glass and holds it out between her knees with one hand, still gripping the blade in the other. Then Erika Kohut, the piano teacher, leans forward intently, carefully adjusts the mirror until she appears satisfied with her view, moves the knife towards her groin, and slices inside herself several times with strained and steady force. A curtain of flat auburn hair conceals all her face except her lips, which are puckered perhaps in pain, perhaps in concentration. She breathes heavily, apparently exerting great effort. Rivulets of crimson liquid spill out of her and into the porcelain basin. Then the mutilation is halted abruptly by banality. “Erika, dinner is ready!” her aging mother, with whom she lives in a cramped apartment, summons her from the other room. “Coming, Mother!” replies the dutiful daughter while snatching a thick menstrual pad from an open bag beside her and pressing it to the wounds between her legs. It has been reported that at the press

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