AskDefine | Define frailty

Dictionary Definition



1 the state of being weak in health or body (especially from old age) [syn: infirmity, debility, feebleness, frailness]
2 moral weakness [syn: vice]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The condition quality of being frail, physically, mentally, or morally; frailness; infirmity; weakness of resolution; liability to be deceived or seduced.
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. § 36, n. 1.
      the limitations and restraints of civil government, and a legal constitution, may be defended, either from reason, which reflecting on the great frailty and corruption of human nature, teaches, that no man can safely be trusted with unlimited authority ;
  2. A fault proceeding from weakness; foible; sin of infirmity.


condition of being frail
  • Czech: křehkost, slabost
  • Portuguese: fragilidade


Extensive Definition

Frailty is a 2001 psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and co-starring Matthew McConaughey. This film is the directorial debut for Paxton. The score was composed by Brian Tyler. The plot focuses on the strange relationship two young boys have with their father who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons, and the consequences this belief has after the boys have grown up.


A man enters the Dallas, Texas FBI office one rainy night, and introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey). He wants to speak to Agent Doyle (Powers Boothe) about his belief that his brother Adam (Levi Kreis) is the notorious "God's Hand" serial killer.
Fenton explains that he is only coming forward now because earlier that day Adam had called him to say that he cannot stop the "demons" because there are too many, and killed himself. Fenton says that he stole Adam's body to bury it at the Thurman Rose Garden, according to a promise the brothers made many years ago. Agent Doyle continues to be skeptical, and Fenton unfolds through flashback the story of their childhood with their widowed father (Bill Paxton).
When Fenton and Adam were young boys, their father tells them that he had been tasked by God to root out and destroy demons whose names were to be provided for him by an angel. Special tools have been given to aid him: gloves to protect his hands, a lead pipe to knock them unconscious, and an axe to destroy them with. At this news, Fenton mentally shuts down, refusing to believe their father will really kill people, but Adam quickly believes their father to be doing God's work.
Their father captures his first victim, a woman named Cynthia Harbridge (Cynthia Ettinger). When he touches her, he claims he can "see" the sins she has committed, and has no guilt when he uses the axe to "destroy" her. Both Fenton and Adam are forced to witness this act; Fenton is traumatized, but Adam claims he can "see" the woman's sins as well. Her body is buried outside in the Thurman Rose Garden, upon which their house is located. Fenton tries to explain to Adam that their father has gone insane, but Adam continues to believe him, leading Fenton to conclude that his younger brother has been successfully brainwashed.
After the third victim is captured, Fenton decides to inform the town Sheriff (Luke Askew). When Sheriff Smalls arrives, Fenton's father kills him with the axe. Unlike the previous acts, the father says that this one is "murder" and blames Fenton for forcing him to commit it. The father confesses that the angel told him that Fenton is also a demon and has to be killed. Fenton begs for mercy, and his father locks him in the cellar. After being nearly starved to death, Fenton has a "vision of God" and is let out.
Fenton, Adam and their father track down another supposed demon and capture him. Fenton is given the axe to chop the man's head off, but he instead kills his own father. Fenton moves to release the captured man, but Adam grabs the axe and kills the "demon", apparently having taken over their father's work.
Back in the present, Agent Doyle is convinced that Fenton's story has weight, and drives Fenton to the Thurman Rose Garden, where Adam would surely have buried his victims. Once they arrive, it is revealed that the adult man who has been calling himself "Fenton" is really Adam. However, the "God's Hand" killer is the real Fenton, who kept the bodies of his victims as trophies in his house basement. Fenton used the "God's Hand" nickname to lure Adam out, knowing that his brother would have to kill him one day so to fulfill the task their father could not do. Fenton has been buried in the Rose Garden, along with the many demons Adam has "destroyed" over the years.
Adam also explains that Agent Doyle was lured out there because he was on God's list. When Adam touches Doyle's hand, a vision is revealed of Doyle killing his own mother in cold blood. Adam picks up the same axe that his father used and destroys Agent Doyle, burying him in the Rose Garden.
The next day following Agent Doyle's disappearance, agents at the bureau frantically try to find the "Fenton Meiks" he left the building with. Agent Hull, who had met Adam-as-Fenton the previous night cannot remember the man's face, and all security footage showing Adam's face has been distorted. Eventually the FBI storm the real Fenton Meiks' house, and find evidence of his killings, along with Agent Doyle's FBI badge.
Agent Hull visits the local Sheriff's office, and the Sheriff is revealed to be Adam Meiks. Agent Hull does not recognize him, and explains that his visit is to inform him about his brother's death and killing spree. They shake hands, during which Adam holds a moment too long only to tell the agent, "You're a good man."



Frailty earned $13,110,448 over its entire domestic run, and received generally positive reviews, with a 76% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert in particular singled it out for praise, giving the film four out of four stars and declaring that "Frailty is an extraordinary work, concealing in its depths not only unexpected story turns but also implications, hidden at first, that make it even deeper and more sad." It has since become something of a cult film.


  • German title: Dämonisch
  • Italian title: Nessuno è al sicuro
  • Greek title: Το σπίτι του τρόμου (The house of terror)
  • Polish title: Ręka boga (The God's Hand)
  • Brazilian title: A mão do diabo (The devil's hand)
  • MPAA rating: rated R for violence and some language
  • runtime: 100 min


External links

frailty in Czech: Lovec démonů
frailty in German: Dämonisch (Film)
frailty in French: Emprise (film, 2001)
frailty in Italian: Frailty - Nessuno è al sicuro
frailty in Japanese: フレイルティー 妄執
frailty in Polish: Ręka Boga (film)
frailty in Chinese: 上帝之手 (2001年電影)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abulia, airiness, airy texture, amiable weakness, attenuation, bad habit, besetting sin, blemish, breakability, breakableness, brittleness, bug, cachexia, cachexy, catch, changeableness, chronic ill health, collapse, cowardice, crack, crackability, crackableness, crispness, crumbliness, crushability, crushableness, daintiness, debilitation, debility, decrepitude, defect, defection, deficiency, delicacy, delicate health, destructibility, diaphanousness, dilutedness, dilution, disintegration, drawback, effeminacy, enervation, ethereality, exhaustion, exiguity, exility, failing, failure, faintheartedness, faintness, fallibility, fault, faute, fear, feeblemindedness, feebleness, fineness, fissility, flaw, flimsiness, foible, fracturableness, fragility, frangibility, friability, gauziness, gossameriness, gracility, healthlessness, hole, human equation, human frailty, human weakness, humanity, humanness, hypochondria, hypochondriasis, ill health, imperfection, impressionability, inadequacy, indecisiveness, infirmity, infirmity of will, inherent vice, insubstantiality, invalidism, invalidity, irresolution, kink, lacerability, laciness, languishing, languishment, liability, lightness, little problem, mistiness, moral flaw, moral weakness, morbidity, morbidness, mortality, paperiness, peakedness, pliability, poor health, problem, rarity, rift, shortcoming, sickliness, sleaziness, slenderness, slightness, slimness, snag, something missing, spinelessness, subtility, suggestibility, susceptibility, taint, tenuity, thinness, unhealthiness, unsoundness, unsubstantiality, unwholesomeness, vagueness, valetudinarianism, velleity, vice, vulnerability, vulnerable place, wasting, wateriness, weak link, weak point, weak side, weak will, weak-mindedness, weakliness, weakness, wispiness, womanishness
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