ABUSE OF WEAKNESS

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First show: October 03

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[A] chilly, dark portrait of two control freaks locking horns.

-Stepehen Holden, NY Times

Beginning in 2004, filmmaker/novelist Catherine Breillat had a series of debilitating strokes connected to a previously undiagnosed cerebrovascular disease.During her long, grueling recovery, she became fascinated by international con man Christophe Rocancourt. She decided only he could play the leading part in her next film. Their close friendship ended with a bang in 2009—when Breillat sued Rocancourt for conning her out of nearly $1 million.

No stranger to discomfiting her audience—or herself—Breillat fictionalizes that recent life chapter here, with the inimitable Isabelle Huppert as stroke-felled filmmaker/novelist “Maud Shainberg.” Maud invites into her life notorious celebrity “crook” Vilko Piran (French rapper Kool Shen). The two fast become thick as, well, thieves. The title Abuse of Weakness suggests a simple victimization that is in fact much more complex and ambiguous in Breillat’s queasy, thinly veiled self-portrait.

In Huppert’s fearless performance, Maud is perversely willing prey to “wild animal” Vilko. He’s rude, bullying, seductive—but then she is often demanding, arrogant and contrary herself. Their interdependency has elements of a marriage (though he’s already married) and an affair (though it’s platonic). These are two prickly, high-maintenance people determined to get the most out of each other, for better or worse. The fact that it’s very likely to be “for worse” seems key to their mutual attraction. –Dennis Harvey

images UnknownDirected and Written by Catherine Breillat,

Casts: Isabelle Huppert, Kool Shen, Laurence Ursino

2014, France | Germany | Belgium, 105min. English Subtitles

 

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