AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | October 18, 2010
Director: Michael Melamedoff
Writer: Michael Melamedoff
Starring: Bobby Cannavale, Danielle Panabaker, Josh Charles, June Raphael
Within the first couple minutes of Weakness, Joshua (Bobby Cannavale) discovers that his mother (Phyllis Somerville) is dying of cancer and he quickly bails out of an uncomfortable attempt at a partner swap (which was his wife’s suggestion). Joshua is a high school English teacher and Weakness starts at the beginning of his summer break. Nothing is going right for Joshua; and just wait, things promise to get worse for him before they get better.
When it rains it pours…soon Joshua’s mother dies; he injures his leg; his brother (Keith Nobbs) — who is hospitalized for mental retardation — is evicted from the hospital; and his wife, Elizabeth (June Diane Raphael) — who sells ceramic penises at a flea market, commences an affair and demands a separation.
Things begin to look slightly better for Joshua as a fellow high school English teacher, Katherine (Lily Rabe), and an ex-student, Danielle (Danielle Panabaker), both express romantic interest in him. At least Joshua does not have a problem attracting attractive ladies. Of course, Joshua’s idea of a nice date consists of going to a video arcade and the batting cages — so who knows how far that will get him.
Weakness, the debut feature film by writer-director Michael Melamedoff, is a very eloquent yet dismally realistic portrayal of a lost and confused man who could probably be satisfied with a way to just decelerate the dreadful downward spiral of his existence. Joshua’s life, at least as represented in Weakness, is like a 90-minute long train wreck (Melamedoff’s film utilizes events such as a fall from a roof and a near car crash as metaphors for Joshua’s life); and Cannavale, in his doleful and subdued performance, ably conveys Joshua’s many weaknesses without always verbalizing them. Joshua definitely does not make the best choices or say the most appropriate things; in many ways Joshua just plows through life with a kind of nonchalance, just assuming that things will begin to improve without his urging.
If you, like me, are still recovering from an emotional break-up, Weakness may hit a little too close to home. Some scenes ring a bit too true for my liking, at least at this juncture in my life. That does not mean Weakness is not a good film; if anything, that is definitely a compliment to Melamedoff and his cast.