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Laramie Movie Scope:
Abuse of Weakness (Abus de faiblesse)

The con artist and the handicapped actress

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 2, 2015 -- This film is about the strange relationship between a con artist and an actress suffering from seizures and a stroke. The con artist takes advantage of this woman, but she understands this and doesn't seem to mind, at least not at first.

Award-winning actress Isabelle Huppert (“Amour”) stars as actress Maud Shainberg, who wakes up one day to find that she has suffered a stroke and is partially paralyzed. Maud is determined to not to let this slow her down and she gets to work on her next film. She is also determined to remain independent, even though she is barely able to walk and one arm is almost useless to her.

She sees a con man on TV who looks perfect for a role in her next film and she meets him. Vilko Piran (played by Kool Shen) is a shady customer. Maud's friends and business partners tell her to steer clear of him, but she seems fascinated by Vilko, by his confidence and bluster. She finds him amusing and is attracted to him, even after he asks her to advance him money on the upcoming film and other projects. She writes a number of large checks to Vilko, a free spender, who goes though money like a fish goes through water.

This relationship is doomed, but it might have not been so bad except that Maud's condition gets worse when she suffers a seizure and breaks her good arm when she falls down. Her hopes of resuming her film career appear to be doomed as well. It is not clear how much of this Maud understands. She seems to live in a kind of daze. She puts on a brave front, but seems to be increasingly out of it.

Maud spends a lot of money on Vilko, who promises to return the money. She also spends a lot of money on remodeling her house, money which she doesn't have. Maud is in serious financial trouble, but she doesn't seem to care. Her family finally steps in to take over her finances and property. They seek an explanation for her erratic behavior, but Maud really has no explanation.

Huppert's performance in this film is outstanding. She's so convincing that I thought maybe she actually did suffer a stroke. She covers a wide range of emotions from laughter to rage in this film. Shen is also good as the shady crook who charms Maud. He does what he needs to do to get her money, from being charming, to being helpful, to bullying, whatever it takes. He's a complicated character.

I'm not sure what the point of this film is, except not to trust con men and that you should ask for help when you need it. Also, the kind of help a con man gives you is not the kind you need. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)