Abuse of Weakness
Director: Catherine Breillat
Despite an almost terrifyingly realistic leading performance from French cinematic icon Isabelle Huppert and the technically adroit direction of master filmmaker Breillat, Abuse of Weakness is almost dishearteningly repetitive and illogical. Which is all the more upsetting since the film dramatizes an actually heartbreaking moment in Breillat’s life.
Filmmaker and writer Maud Schoenberg (Huppert) suffers a massive stroke and is forced into a cycle of constant rehabilitation and relapse. Wanting to press on with her latest projects, she’s intrigued by a con man turned author named Vilko (Kool Shen) who possesses the rawness she needs in the lead for her next film. Almost immediately, Vilko seizes upon the opportunity to exploit the situation to his advantage, agreeing to stick around longer than he should to help her, but constantly borrowing and never repaying large sums of money.
Huppert throws herself into the role of stroke victim with reckless, physical, and emotional aplomb, and Shen makes for a suitable compatriot and villain, but Breillat’s screenplay just keeps going in circles. The same follies and mistakes are made by Maud time and time again, which might be a paean to the character’s loneliness, but it makes a successful and strong woman look like a naive cliché. It gets more frustrating as it goes on without things really getting that much worse for any of them, leading to a non-conclusion that can be seen from far off. It’s certainly a disappointment that should be better than this. (Andrew Parker)
Friday, September 6th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 9:30pm
Saturday, September 7th, Scotiabank 14, 7:30pm
Saturday, September 14th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 9:45am