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Abuse of Weakness (2013)

Director:Catherine Breillat Producer:Jean-François Lepetit Story by:Based on Abuse of Weakness by Catherine Breillat

Screenplay by:Catherine Breillat  Music by:Didier Lockwood Cinematography:Alain Marcoen  Edited by:Pascal Chavance

Running time:105 min Country:France Language:French Genre:Drama  Subtitle:English 

Starring: Isabelle Huppert as Maud Schoenberg, Kool Shen as Vilko Piran, Laurence Ursino as Andy,
Christophe Sermet as Ezzé
, Ronald Leclercq as Gino, Fred Lebelge as TV presenter, Tristan Schotte as Antoine,
Daphné Baiwir as Hortense
, Dimitri Tomsej as Louis, Nicolas Steil as Louis'' father, Jean-François Lepetit as Jean-Paul







London Film Festival 2013

Best Film
Catherine Breillat 

Warsaw International Film Festival 2013

Grand Prix
Catherine Breillat 

Abuse of Weakness (French: Abus de faiblesse) is a 2013 semi-autobiographical film written and directed by Catherine Breillat. The film had its world premiere on 6 September 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

An extraordinarily subtle and ultimately devastating film....
by Paul Imseih
Having just watched this film at the Melbourne Film Festival where Breillat introduced the film, I can say that it is the most approachable and moving film she has made in recent memory.

While the film reduces Breillat''s usual focus on sexuality and sexual power, it more than makes up for in its humane but disturbing focus on other power elements in relationships within and across modern bourgeois families and those classes below. I think that too few reviewers miss the class critique presented by Breillat but it is there and adds a whole new layer of significance to this film.

Basing the story on her own real-life experience of being defrauded by a major con, this autobiographical account of sudden disability from stroke and the manipulative strangers who take advantage of her sets up an austere, quietly unsettling premise as a platform for Isabelle Huppert''s extraordinary performance as Breillat''s alter-ego, Maud.

Whereas Breillat''s previous films sometimes fail in her use of non-professional actors lacking range or depth of performance, Huppert fills this role with a technical brilliance and emotional and intellectual depth that allows the viewer to gain some hold on the rationale behind a woman''s almost willing complicity in a swindling of which she is the unfortunate target. The word "victim" hardly seems appropriate here. Breillat and Huppert are reaching for something else.

You''ll need to see the film to reach your own conclusion of this elusive "something else". It''s enough to say that the film remains gripping throughout and thoroughly watchable, not least for the shimmering, alchemical performance by Huppert who is at the height of her powers in this performance.

Her work has been associated with the cinéma du corps/cinema of the body genre. In an interview with Senses of Cinema, she described David Cronenberg as another filmmaker she considers to have a similar approach to sexuality in film.

Though Breillat spends most of her time behind the camera, she has acted in a handful of movies. She made her film debut in Bernardo Bertolucci''s Last Tango in Paris (1972) as Mouchette, a dressmaker, alongside her sister Marie-Hélène Breillat.

In 2004, Breillat suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, causing a stroke that paralyzed her left side.[6] After five months of hospitalization and a slow rehabilitation, she gradually returned to work, producing Une vieille maîtresse (The Last Mistress) in 2007. This film was one of three French films officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival of that year.

In 2007, Breillat met notorious conman Christophe Rocancourt, and offered him a leading role in a movie that she was planning to make, based on her own novel Bad Love, and starring Naomi Campbell. Soon after, she gave him €25,000 to write a screenplay titled La vie amoureuse de Christophe Rocancourt (The Love Life of Christophe Rocancourt), and over the next year and a half, would give him loans totalling an additional €678,000. In 2009, a book written by Breillat was published, in which she alleged that Rocancourt had taken advantage of her diminished mental capacity, as she was still recovering from her stroke. The book is titled Abus de faiblesse, a French legal term usually translated as "abuse of weakness". In 2012, Rocancourt was convicted of abus de faiblesse for taking Breillat''s money, and sentenced to prison.

In September 2010, Breillat''s second fairy-tale based film, La belle endormie (Sleeping Beauty), opened in the Orizzonti sidebar in the 67th Venice Film Festival.

As of 2011, although Breillat had moved on to other projects, she still hoped to film Bad Love, but had not yet been able to find financing to do so. However somewhat ironically, a film adaptation of her book Abus de faiblesse, directed by Breillat and starring Isabelle Huppert, began production in 2012, and was screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

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