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"Abuse of Weakness": The Strange Allure of Really Bad People 

Tuesday, Sep 30 2014
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There's something alluring about the darkness. It can lead to choosing to date someone with a known history of drugging and robbing their partners, or in the case of Catherine Breillat's autobiographical film, striking up a relationship with a man famous for being a swindler and confidence artist. After suffering a debilitating stroke that paralyzes half her body, filmmaker Maud (Breillat avatar Isabelle Huppert) becomes fascinated by Vilko (French rapper Kool Shen), who's making the talk show circuit after serving time for bilking celebrities out of millions of dollars. Maud decides to cast Vilko in her next film, and over the extremely valid objections of her colleagues and family, she lets the wrong one in to her life. If darkness wasn't attractive then vampires wouldn't be so popular, and Abuse of Weakness is a vampire story with no supernatural elements, as Vilko uses Maud's curiosity against her and sucks her dry. The picture would be harrowing enough with just its depiction of Breillat's real-life stroke, recreated in a fearless performance by Huppert that's occasionally reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani in Andrzej Zulawski's Possession, but coupling it with Shen's performance is what makes Abuse of Weakness truly horrifying. He creates an unrepentantly dickish, arrogant character without redemption or merit ... but who's also strangely, dangerously alluring.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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