6 September 2013 5:41 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Catherine Breillat’s films have always been autobiographical, often painfully so, and yet “Abuse of Weakness” cuts even closer to the marrow than the rest. Featuring iron-nerved Isabelle Huppert as the director’s onscreen equivalent, a partly crippled French helmer named Maud, the uneasy-making story re-creates a situation in which the helmer cast a known con man to star in her next film, only to be swindled by him in the process. Between its perverse power games and co-dependent sadomasochism, the almost frigidly unsentimental pic seems an ideal double bill with Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur,” but will likely prove too personal to attract much of an audience.

Huppert’s involvement marks something of a special occasion for Breillat, who typically prefers to work with lesser-known or completely non-professional actors — a predilection that got the director into the fix she portrays here. One evening, while recovering from a brain »


- Peter Debruge

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