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CANNES 2023 Competition

Review: Anatomy of a Fall


- CANNES 2023: Justine Triet delivers a masterful, multi-layered and suspenseful film about a couple and the judicialization of their private lives, carried by the exceptional Sandra Hüller

Review: Anatomy of a Fall
Samuel Theis, Sandra Hüller and Milo Machado Graner in Anatomy of a Fall

"What do you want to know?" The protagonist of Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall [+see also:
interview: Justine Triet
film profile
, unveiled in competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, couldn’t have asked a better question in the film’s opening scene, in response to a student who has travelled to interview her in her family chalet in the French mountains. Indeed, we’ll know an awful lot more about her by the end of the story, but maybe - or most definitely - not everything, because the French filmmaker exceeds at controlling the incredibly subtle unfurling of an astounding story, at delicately, gradually, meticulously rooting around, with stupefying precision, in the most unexpected recesses, without ever imposing her own viewpoint or morals on the audience.

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We might see extensive splatters of blood in this tale, beginning with a violent death which could either be suicide or murder and which is accompanied by all the usual theories, suspicions and doubts associated with this kind of event. But it’s actually a whole other kind of projection which surreptitiously sustains this very concrete, captivating and highly resonant detective film and courtroom drama: a foray through the other side of the looking glass, into the opaque zone of the intimacy of a couple whose intensity can sometimes cause confusion on the outside.

It’s a brutal shock for Sandra (extraordinary German actress Sandra Hüller) when she discovers her young son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) with the body of her husband Samuel, who has fallen from the attic of the chalet which he was busy renovating to the deafening beats of a 50 Cent rap song played on loop. But what happened exactly? The mother and her 11-year-old son (who was blinded during an accident which took place seven years earlier) deal as best they can with the immense emotional fallout that follows. But the drama doesn’t stop there: the autopsy raises some serious questions, namely the victim’s cranial trauma potentially pre-dating his fall. Under the spotlight, Sandra calls a lawyer-friend to the rescue (Swann Arlaud). From interrogations aimed at reconstructing events, expertise in new, troubling discoveries, and defence strategies through to media coverage of the case, the trial draws near. Released under court supervision, Sandra tries to carry on with her life as a mother, but her life as a woman and a wife slowly rises to the surface…

Wonderfully adept at judging atmospheres, Justine Triet paints a highly accurate picture depicting the blurred line between theories of manipulation and the sincerely complex nature of the case. Ensuring the credibility, accessibility and lifelike nature of her sophisticated and unique approach, the director (who wrote the remarkable screenplay with Arthur Harari) delivers a very high-calibre work, also exploring, in echo, the fine line separating the real from the imaginary (the heroine is a writer), as well as the gaze of others, the influence of images and our protective instincts. These themes, alongside many others, are examined and intertwined in an enchanting film of prodigious richness, which is as subtle as it is powerful.

Anatomy of a Fall is produced by Les Films Pelléas and Les Films de Pierre, in co-production with France 2 Cinéma and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Cinéma. Sales are entrusted to mk2 Films.

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(Translated from French)

Photogallery 24/09/2023: San Sebastián 2023 - Anatomy of a Fall

5 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

© 2023 Dario Caruso for Cineuropa -, Dario Caruso

Photogallery 21/05/2023: Cannes 2023 - Anatomy of a Fall

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Justine Triet, Sandra Hüller, Jehnny Beth, Swann Arlaud, Arthur Harari, Milo Machado-Graner, Antoine Reinartz, Samuel Theis, Jehnny Beth
© 2023 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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