(2014; Abus de faiblesse, French) Crippled on her left side from a massive brain hemorrhage, filmmaker Maud Shainberg (Isabelle Huppert) realizes: "Nothing will ever be the same." While watching television at night, she calls her assistant Ezzé (Christophe Sermet) to turn on channel 2 to see an interview with former criminal con artist Vilko Piran (Kool Shen) - telling the host of his victims, "They were ripe to be robbed" - promoting his book, My Life in Yellow.
As she listens to Vilko's answers to questions about his swindling 35 million euros in Hong Kong, where he became a major crook and spent a dozen years in prison, by preying on people's vanity, she admires his "bitter pride," commenting over the phone to Ezzé: "No repentance. I love it…. No actor's like that. Find him for me. I want him!"
In her home, Maud meets with Vilko - who appreciates her library, says Nietzsche is his master, and grabs a book off the top shelf she authored - to offer him the lead role in her next film. Following her narration of a summary of the screenplay with its bloody ending, Vilko replies: "I like the ending, so I'll do your movie."
Writer/director Catherine Breillat's drama is based on her own actual experience. Before his departure with her book in hand, Vilko says he'll be spending a lot of time with her, though Maud answers that she doesn't see actors before filming. He also phones her often, waking her from sleep. "Sick of hear from me?" he asks. "No," she replies: "Big kiss."
Living large in a hotel room, Vilko is married to Andy (Laurence Ursino); they have an infant Mumu. When with his driver Gino he tosses a bag on the floor with what he claims contains 200,000 euros from his scheme involving the Minister of the Interior, he gets no rise from Maud: "Nothing surprises you." Her producer Jean-Paul doesn't want Vilko for the movie.
When Vilko complains that he can't spend his ill-gotten loot because the cops are watching and the taxman wants 100,000 euros from his book deal, Maud agrees to write him a check as a temporary loan, which he must repay with interest. After she introduces Ezzé to her fascinating braggart, he worriedly urges her: "Dump him at once; he's dangerous. You saw his eyes?... Listen, he's made your home his territory."
Laughing at her assistant's concern, Maud replies: "He a wild animal." Ezzé repeats his warning: "He's a killer. Get rid of him!" Vilko comes to Maud with news that he's bounced a check for 100,000 euros: "If you can't save me, I'm sunk." She can't very well make a movie with Vilko if he's back in jail.
Spending time with Maud, going on walks together, saying he wants to collaborate on a book with her, promising to pay her back with "sure thing" investment in a restaurant, he cautions her to never mention their deals to anyone. When he says he needs for her to go with him to Switzerland so that he can bring back a million euros, she suffers a seizure alone in her house.
When asked to explain her reckless behavior to her incredulous daughter, son-in-law, and banker, Maud says: "It was me but it wasn't me."
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