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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Abus de faiblesse" )


directed by Catherine Breillat
France/Germany/Belgium 2013


Why on earth would anyone want to watch a man mistreat a stroke victim for two hours? The answer: when said victim is played by Isabelle Huppert (MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT) and we know she can give as good as she gets. In ABUSE OF WEAKNESS - which refers to the a French legal term for taking advantage of a person with reduced mental capacity - filmmaker Maud Shainberg (Huppert) has been undergoing physical therapy for a year following a stroke and is ambulatory but has regained only partial use of her right hand. With her next film project postponed for a year but seeming unlikely to be made, Maud becomes intrigued one night while watching television by an interview with young, arrogant conman Vilko Piran (rapper Kool Shen, OLD SCHOOL) who has written a hugely successful book on his crimes (for which he feels no guilt since he has served his time). She contacts him about acting in a project; however, it is not a film on his life but an original story about an actress and her hidden lover. So stimulated is she by his presence that she repeatedly agrees to loan him money since he tells her that the police and the tax men are after the money he made from his book (which he has had to stash away). He makes repeated promises to pay her back, convinces her that he has money coming from various shady and seemingly legitimate dealings while also borrowing more money from her explaining that either his life or his freedom is at stake. Maud continues to loan him money for whatever reason – while also dropping €1.5 million on a home renovation (because she always wanted a garden) – perhaps because she has grown physically dependent on him or she wants him financially dependent on her; but does she really believe herself to have the upper hand or does she have a death wish to realize the tragic conclusion of her film project?

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS was inspired by the director Catherine Breillat's (THE LAST MISTRESS) own 2004 stroke and her subsequent experience with conman Christophe Rocancourt (who masqueraded as a French member of the Rockefeller family to scam wealthy marks) who she accused of scamming her out of €700,000 while developing the project BAD LOVE with Rocancourt acting opposite model Naomi Campbell (as a result, the project was cancelled but Breillat has expressed a desire to make it one day, presumably without Rocancourt). Although Maud is scammed by Vilko, we also see not only the ways in which the younger man awakens her creativity but also the subtle ways in which she deliberately provokes him (all of the men in her life remark that she is perverse and wants to make men into slaves to which she once remarks "There has to be one advantage to being handicapped"). When called upon to explain herself in the end, she is unrepentant yet unable to reconcile herself with her actions ("It was me, and it wasn't me"). Perhaps as much a roundabout confessional – recognizing but possibly not entirely able to explain her contradictory behavior – as much as a semi-fictionalized account of the director's experience, ABUSE OF WEAKNESS is not vintage Breillat (up to and including ANATOMY OF HELL) but it is an interesting return to the chamber piece style after three period pieces (not without interest themselves).

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 12 February 2014 (France)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:44:04

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.21 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Short film 'The Future of Cinema' (16:9; 1:37)
• Interview with Catherine Breillat (16:9; 17:53)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:50)
• Catherine Breillat Trailers:
• - 'Sleeping Beauty'
• - 'Bluebeard'
• Strand Releasing Trailers:
• - 'You and the Night'
• - 'Love is the Devil'
• - 'Lilting'
• - 'The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears'

DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2014

Chapters 8



Strand Releasing's dual-layer disc features a high-bitrate, progressive, anamorphic transfer that features some faint edge enhancement but seems to favor a degree of softness as well as a generally restrained color palette. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is front-oriented since it is a dialogue-heavy film, with the surrounds containing mainly atmospheric sounds for the city scenes and giving some depth to the minimalist music score. The optional English subtitles are free of errors.

Extras include a short film by Breillat as well as an English-language interview (although subtitles might have helped). The interview does seem to presuppose knowledge of the real-life backstory to the film - particularly the aborted project BAD LOVE - although she also discusses her desire to work with Huppert, the dynamics of staging, movement, and wardrobe color choices for her two principal characters, as well as the difference between a sex scene and a love scene. The disc also includes the film's trailer, trailers for two of her other films released by Strand (hopefully this is an indication that they might get properly remastered), as well as trailers for four other Strand titles.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC


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