Catherine Breillat and Isabelle Huppert, two French masters of directing and acting, respectively, unite in Breillat’s new film “Abuse of Weakness,” adapted from her autobiographical novel of the same name.
In this awkwardly titled film, Huppert plays a stroke-afflicted director — i.e., Breillat herself — who casts a manipulative con man named Vilko (Kool Sheen) to unfortunate results. In the clip below, Huppert’s Maud offers the criminal the leading role in her new film and he consents, but not without a few mysterious terms. As in any Breillat film, this brief encounter thrums with disquiet and dread.
An always challenging writer and director of extreme French cinema, Breillat has shaken audiences to the core with the darkly beautiful coming-of-age film “Fat Girl” (2001), the claustrophobic and sexually explicit “Anatomy of Hell” (2004) and her recent Freudian fables “Bluebeard” (2009) and “The Sleeping Beauty” (2010). Looking back on her slate of austere, hyper-literate films, it’s clear that the exquisitely icy Huppert, ever-ready to bare all emotionally, is a perfect fit for Breillat.
“Abuse of Weakness” played TIFF this month and will move on to the New York Film Festival in October.