Abuse of Weakness: New York Film Festival 2013

French provocateur Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) delves into her own discomfiting history with her latest feature. Maud Schoenberg (Isabelle...

New York Film Festival 2013: Abuse of Weakness

French provocateur Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl) delves into her own discomfiting history with her latest feature. Maud Schoenberg (Isabelle Huppert, in one of her finest performances) is a filmmaker who suffers a stroke and, during recovery, falls under the spell of a con artist—played by enticingly rugged hip-hop performer Kool Shen—who she wants to cast in her new project. If these elements sound vaguely familiar, it’s because Breillat herself had a stroke in 2004 and soon after was bilked out of a small fortune by the notorious swindler Christophe Rocancourt. Abuse of Weakness feels like a personal exorcism—unsentimental in its presentation of illness and especially tough (neither apologetic nor pitiable) in the way it views the often-irrational behavior of Breillat’s onscreen surrogate. It’s another fascinating entry in the director’s ongoing exploration of the sadistic and masochistic facets of human behavior. Click for showtimes.—Keith Uhlich

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