A martinet among instructors, Erika (Isabelle Huppert) humiliates her pupils and then schemes to help them win competitions. She plays the sexual sadist with her prize student Walter (Benoit Magimel) yet engages in masochistic mutilation on her own. Erika would be quite a handful for any actress, but the great Huppert has a sure grasp on her. In this kinky, often goofy, never less than fascinating psychodrama, she makes sense of a stern, extreme personality. Huppert could be speaking to the audience as well as to Walter when she says, "I want all you want. I have all you need."
--By Richard Corliss