"No one who had come close to Schubert's music (to pick just one composer) could lead the savagely compartmentalized life that Erika suffers. Therefore, she is a music teacher as a front. Therefore, she is very ill... and I am not quite sure that great acting and great reputation should be given to anything as unique (ie as rare in humanity) as such illness." — David Thomson, Have You Seen? (Knopf)
Feb 6, 2011
Does Schubert save you from sadomasochism?
Even by David Thomson's standards, these are a mystifying sequence of sentences (from his book Have You Seen, which I've been enjoying, fitfully, since I was bought it for Christmas). First off is that stunning contention that nobody who listens to Schubert can lead the kind of compartmentalized life that the Isabelle Huppert character suffers, which is to say, teacher by day and sadomasochist by night. When did he write this book? 1900? One might argue, as Haneke seems to, that the frigid perfectionism of Huppert's world is precisely the breeding ground for the kind of sexual dysfunction she displays. Contrarily, I can hear the cry that sadomasochistic tendencies are no more frequent among the world of classical pianists than they are amongst, say, the firefighter population, or the ranks of biochemists. But to argue that they are less likely to be found amongst Schubert fans because they listen to Schubert, displays a hilariously antiquated faith in the normative effects of classical music. It's positively Leavisite, as if classical concerts and cold baths are the only thing standing between you and double-ended dildos. The backed-up reasoning that follows is like the stuttering of a man in denial: It cannot be that she likes both. The piano teaching has to be a front. She is ill. And because ill, she should not be portrayed on screen. As if genital self-mulilation were perfectly acceptable in a film if enacted by a healthy human being. I hate to break it to Mr Thomson, but his hunt for a healthy human being who just happens to be into labial self-laceration is going to be a long one.