Abuse of Weakness

Ben’s Sydney Film Festival review of the sublime ABUSE OF WEAKNESS

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I’m on a good run at the moment with the Sydney Film Fest. Just hit another corker! Catherine Breillat’s autobiographical “Abuse of Weakness” is utterly sublime! It follows the director’s real life tale of her recovery from a stroke in 2004 and falling for and getting swindled by a well-known conman.

Breillat, as one of the great living female auteurs, is here completely in control of her material. The indomitable Isabelle Huppert is absolutely perfect for the role of Maud (i.e. Breillat) as she incarnates a stroke victim with a delicate (and, it must be said, virtuosic) balance of fragile helplessness and savage defiance.

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Victim. There’s that word. I just used it unthinkingly. But it is a word that is endemic to Breillat’s vocabulary. Breillat rages passionately and exasperatedly against the victimisation of women, especially as far as the male gaze is concerned. She gives victim a new power, a new strength. A celebration and defiance of…

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