A woman has to stand trial after her husband dies in suspicious circumstances in Justine Triet’s compelling courtroom drama.
Anyone who caught Justine Triet’s delicious 2019 film Sybil ahead of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival would’ve been less surprised when the writer-director’s formidable follow-up, Anatomy of a Fall, scooped the Palme d’Or. This is Hitchcockian hokum of the absolute grandest cru, a throwback murder mystery whose immaculately precise plotting coalesces into a existential conundrum which asks: if a person murders another person and there was no-one around to see them do it, did it actually happen?
German actor Sandra Hüller adds to the case that she’s one of the finest to ever do it, playing slippery Sandra, a commercially successful author who is arrested on suspicion of murder when her commercially unsuccessful author husband Samuel (Samuel Thies) plummets from the balcony of their grandiose pine chalet. Triet and Hüller conspire to not give the audience an inch when it comes to the question of Sandra’s culpability, and this is done via the clever, naturalistic writing and a performance which cleaves to realism even when the material attempts to drag it in other, more lurid directions.
At the centre of it all is the couple’s partially-blind son, Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner), who has to suffer the ignominy of discovering his parents’ marital problems in court. It’s confident, classical filmmaking, yet despite its many formal and thematic pleasures, doesn’t offer a whole lot that’s new.
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Published 10 Nov 2023
A dark horse Palme d’Or contender yomps to glory. Must-see then, surely?
All pivots on Sandra Hüller’s technically astounding central turn.
I think it’s one of those films where there’s less to it than meets the eye. But will have to watch again…