Anatomy of a Fall
Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall hit on two trends for films at this year’s Cannes, where it won the Palme d’Or: 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 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. Special mention should also go to the canine who plays Snoop, who won the Palm Dog Award and had the audience gasping for breath at its skills.
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 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.
Anatomy of a Fall is released in UK cinemas on 10th November 2023.
Watch a clip from Anatomy of a Fall here: