Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, and starring German actress Sandra Hüller, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall is a riveting portrait of a complex woman put on trial for the murder of her spouse.
Anatomy of a Fall
The much-lauded winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, Justine Triet’s fourth feature has cemented her status as one of today’s great filmmaking talents. Unfolding over two-and-a-half hours like a compulsively readable novel, the riveting Anatomy of a Fall is both a dissection of an intimate relationship and of the judiciary process.
Sandra (a ferocious, magnetic, and edgy Sandra Hüller, also at the Festival in Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest) is a successful German writer who lives in the French Alps with her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) and their visually impaired son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner). A brilliant, decibel-bursting opening scene suggests tensions in their isolated chalet, so when Samuel is discovered dead in the snow beneath one of their windows, suspicion is quickly aroused. Did he take his own life, or was he pushed to his death? When the investigation proves to be inconclusive — its varying angles hinting at the microscopic examination to come — Sandra is ultimately indicted and put on trial.
A captivating and sharply directed, written, and acted courtroom procedural, Anatomy of a Fall also functions like a trenchant autopsy of confirmation bias and ambiguity itself, with the court an operatic arena in which every gesture, word, and past interaction are ripe for judgment. As scrutiny turns to Sandra’s complex character and her tumultuous relationship with Samuel — their artistic rivalries, romantic jealousies, and contempt — the couple’s young son becomes the key witness.
Taut, suspenseful, and thrilling until the final moment, Anatomy of a Fall progresses like a heady puzzle that tackles the messiness of existence and the often-elusive nature of truth itself.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: accident trauma