ANATOMY OF A FALL
Friday, December 8 - Wednesday, December 13
Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, writer-director Justine Triet’s absorbing courtroom mystery is filled with twists and turns that keep audiences alert and guessing to the final, unforgettable scene. German-born novelist Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) is implicated in the death of her husband Samuel. At first glance, it looks like he threw himself from the third-story window of their chalet in the Alps, but an autopsy reveals a head wound delivered earlier—and a tape recording of a nasty argument between the couple provides a possible motive for murder.
Triet heightens the elusiveness of truth by making Sandra’s and Samuel’s blind 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) a key witness. Because of his limited vision, Daniel isn’t sure he’s interpreting everything that happened correctly, which parallels the audience’s uncertainty. Though the film is lengthy and largely dialogue-driven, it weaves a powerful spell that never lets our interest wane; as the investigation heads into the courtroom, more secrets and surprises are revealed. It’s not just an exercise in Hitchcockian suspense, however, as Triet also shows the devastating effect of the trial on Daniel: whether his mother is a murderer or his father a bitter suicide, his feelings about both parents are tarnished.
Triet also delves into the tensions tearing the marriage apart even before one partner took a literal fall. And there’s intriguing commentary on how an artist’s life becomes public property, where people feel they “know” a writer because her work contains autobiographical elements. But ultimately it’s the search for answers that makes Anatomy of a Fall so compelling—and the fact that we care, and want to know, is a tribute to Triet and her terrific ensemble, particularly Müller in a challenging, complex role, playing a character whose guilt or innocence is never completely certain until—possibly—the end.
Rated R for violent images, profanity, and sexual references. In English, German, and French with subtitles. | 2h 31m
Starring: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner
Director: Justine Triet
Film descriptions are written by friend and cinema supporter, Dave Cooper.