Anatomy of a Fall (Anatomie d’une Chute)
As the first week of the 76th Cannes comes to a close, two motifs have crystallised as a common thread in this year’s Competition films: the direct face-off between real life and the art it inspires, and casting German actress Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann) as the female lead in an international production.
In Anatomy of a Fall, writer Sandra Voyter (Hüller) must defend herself against accusations of murder when her husband’s fatal fall from their chalet is deemed suspicious. In court, her success in a metier in which her husband never gained traction is argued against her, as well as a direct passage from one of her books, in which a character thinks about killing her partner.
In the great tradition of courtroom dramas, director Justine Triet keeps the audience guessing as to what exactly happened and who is to blame. The stakes may be the same in any murder trial, yet she operates on a different scale: the dialogue doesn’t always contain the exciting pathos of Law and Order – it is more nuanced and truthful. The trial language is French, but as Voyter is not a native she asks to switch to English when it becomes too complicated for her to explain herself. Hüller’s character is not one for an emotional outburst, but distinguishes herself through collectedness and intellect, and she plays the role with terrific authenticity.
The camera is occasionally wonky, seemingly dismounted from a tripod during a take, which could have evoked a cinéma vérité style, had it been used on a more consistent and considered basis. But as pictorial language is never at the focus of this genre, this should not be a discouraging factor. Anatomy of a Fall can easily compete with the big-league legal dramas.
It is director Justine Triet’s second time competing for the Palme d’Or after her 2019 entry, Sibyl. One prize her newest feature is a shoo-in for is the Palm Dog Award, as the canine who plays Snoop had its premiere audience gasping for breath at its skills.
Anatomy of a Fall (Anatomie d’une Chute) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from Anatomy of a Fall (Anatomie d’une Chute) here: