Mortifying

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,

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