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Abuse of Weakness

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Area Premiere August 22–25

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ABUSE OF WEAKNESS / Abus de Faiblesse (2013) dir Catherine Breillat w/Isabelle Huppert, Kool Shen, Laurence Ursino, Christophe Semet [105 min; DCP; in French with English subtitles]
In a pairing so perfect we can’t believe it hasn’t happened before, infamous cinematic provocatrice Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) and legendary actress Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher) team up for this autobiographical character study. Huppert plays Maud Schoenberg, a tightly controlled, and controlling, film director who suffers a devastating stroke. Driven to work again but not fully recovered, Schoenberg becomes fixated on a paroled con man that she sees on the television one night. Calling him to a meeting, the director asks him to appear in her next film and he agrees. What follows is a spiral into self-destruction for the director and a return to old habits for her star.

Breillat and Huppert are both fearless in portraying an independent woman who, for reasons unknown, allows herself to be victimized by a charismatic thug – Huppert because of her stunning and rigorous performance as a strong-willed but physically handicapped woman; Breillat because this is the thinly veiled story of what actually happened to her during a 5-year span beginning in 2004.

★★★½ “Huppert’s amazing performance not only masters the physical rigors and deformations of her character, but more importantly captures her cold capriciousness and the enigmatic innocence that one of Maud’s friends labels ‘perverse.'” – Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

★★★★☆ “Another fascinating entry in the director’s ongoing exploration of the sadistic and masochistic facets of human behavior.” Keith Uhlich reviews Catherine Breillat’s ABUSE OF WEAKNESS for Time Out New York:

“With clinical dispassion and narrative elegance, Breillat has constructed what she calls ‘a thriller about denial.'” Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

“A fascinating, nicely restrained look at what in retrospect was a parasitic relationship.” – Betsy Sherman, The Arts Fuse

“It is hard to imagine that any other actress could muster the stubborn ferocity that Isabelle Huppert brings to the role.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times

“Catherine Breillat’s films have always been autobiographical, often painfully so, and yet “Abuse of Weakness” cuts even closer to the marrow than the rest.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety


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