Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" can be opposed to this film. The two works seem to be looking at different, sometimes parallel, other times tangent things in similar settings. What makes us fragile, what is debilitating in our nature and how does a relationship foster/overcome weakness? Both films start with lead characters that need to rebuild themselves after a event that changes their body dramatically.
Necrofilia y dominación financiera; autosabotaje y sumisión. La oscura historia de dos individuos alienados de su realidad, él con un fuerte consumismo de escaparate lleno de falsas actitudes dominantes y ella como facilitadora y dominatriz (en ocasiones) sumisa de las conductas presentadas por él. Torcida y placentera.
A film certain to resonate with those who have inhabited an atmosphere of abuse, control, manipulation, as well as of illness and (physical/mental/emotional) vulnerability. An excellent and extraordinarily entrancing piece. Also, Isabelle Huppert is phenomenal. It's unfortunate that so few of the reviews here seem to express a compassion toward's our protagonist.
Aside from Huppert, who is luminous and so, so crafted and compelling, this film really left me wanting. I was engaged fully in the physicality of the characters - and the interesting interiors, but I didn't invest emotionally in the plot. I found it painfully predictable from the onset (and I knew nothing of the autobiographical nature of the film until just now). when I read MUBI's "take."
A lonely aging film director allows herself to be cheated out of everything she owns by a thuggish con-man. In real life when we hear of this sort of thing happening one's first reaction is to wonder how anyone could allow themselves to be scammed so ruthlessly. Far too often we learn that the victim is as clueless as we are. Breillat herself offers no answers. These things happen why do you need to know why?
It's difficult to make a film about one's own life, even if it is fictionalized. There is something missing here that hurts the film, in my opinion, and it is the transition of her character. Like her at the end, I don't know why she did what she did, only that it happened. Perhaps that's the point but in terms of narrative, it doesn't work as well. Huppert is good as always.
SPOILER Riveting in its expression of vulnerability, both in the obvious physical way, and in how the story keeps asking for violence. I was sure this would end with the red-on-white blood smears painted for us at the outset. Rather than fulfilling this, Breillat leaves it be, as an imagined, menacing backdrop to Maud and Vilko's developing relationship. "Tu n'as pas peur?" says Vilko, she says no, we say "Si!"
I hate to disagree with the negative reviews here, but this is a psychologically compelling story that goes well beyond mere manipulation by a con artist. Maud and Vilko are engaged in a match of wits -- they both want to tame and control the other. Nor is the ending straightforward, as Maud is as much to blame for her troubles as is Vilko. "It was me and it wasn't me." More subtle than Breillat's other films.
It's that pathological thing that we do. In 'The Frog and the Scorpion', as the frog is drowning the scorpion says "I could not help myself. It is my nature." The whole thing seemed a bit rushed, and Huppert (best actress in the world) did not perform up to standard.