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Weakness follows the life of high school teacher Joshua Polansky (Bobby Cannavale), whose world is crumbling around him: his wife, Elizabeth (June Diane Raphael), wants to start swinging; his mother, Lenore (Phyllis Somerville), thinks she has terminal cancer; and his autistic brother, Pete (Keith Nobbs), who resides at an assisted living home, only connects outside of himself through baseball, games or an occasional burst of anger. At school, things get complicated as a love triangle of sorts develops between Joshua and his teaching colleagues, the wise-cracking Bart (Josh Charles), and idealist Katharine (Lily Rabe), who only has eyes for the married Joshua. When Elizabeth leaves him, Joshua retreats from his adult life and responsibilities and begins dating Danielle, (Danielle Panabaker), a former student who has postponed attending college. Joshua s subsequent regression and indecision fail to mask his anger and hurt, leading to a series of events that force him to reconsider not only his decisions, but the subtle and profound ways that people affect one another.
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Top Customer Reviews
High school English teacher Joshua Polansky (Bobby Cannavale, in an exceptionally fine performance) is a sweet guy whose pupils like him: outside the classroom his world is in shambles. He is married to the free-spirited Elizabeth (June Diane Raphael) whose hobby is making ceramic phalluses to sell at the local flea market and wants to try 'swinging' with another couple; his mother Lenore (Phyllis Somerville) is dying (and does die) from cancer leaving Joshua to care for his severely autistic, hospitalized brother Pete (Keith Nobbs) whose violent behavior results in his being removed from care; his best friend and fellow teacher in Health Education Bart (Josh Charles) attempts to use Joshua's appeal to women by competing for the attention of another fellow English teacher Katherine (Lily Rabe); after Lenore's death Joshua and his sensually frustrated wife Elizabeth must provide a home for Pete who usurps all of Joshua's time with baseball and games; Lenore's home must be fixed up and in trying to do so Joshua falls off the roof and injures his leg and Elizabeth must find a repairman to work the empty house. Joshua stays home on summer break, Elizabeth hires the handsome Alejandro (Daniel Sunjata) to repair Lenore's house - and begins an affair. The emotionally distraught Joshua falls in with a beautiful just-graduated pupil Danielle (Danielle Panabaker) and fears the consequences of having a relationship with a girl so young despite the fact that Elizabeth has now asked for a divorce. Events tumble in Joshua's train wreck of a life and how he confronts all of the endless issues that he faces finds him just plowing through life with a kind of nonchalance, just assuming that things will begin to improve without his urging.
That all of this works is due to the quality of writing and directing from Melamedoff and from consistently excellent performances not only form the brilliant Cannavale, but from everyone in the well-selected cast. The fact that we, the audience, can hang in there with Joshua as he outlines many of the failings of contemporary interpersonal relationships is a tribute to all involved in this fine little film. Grady Harp, September 11