Anatomy of a Fall ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
A woman is suspected of her husband’s murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the main witness. On in cinemas at the moment.
This French courtroom drama/thriller revolves around a complex and intriguing storyline following the consequences of a ‘fall’. The titular ‘fall’ in question is yes an actual fall, which results is somebody’s death, but also a figurative ‘fall’ of a marriage.
As the story unfolds, the audience is slowly drawn into an intricate web of emotions, uncertainties, and power dynamics, all of which elevates the film beyond your standard murder mystery or courtroom drama.
The strength of the Anatomy of a fall lies not only in its plot, but what’s actually hiding behind it. This is really a powerful and moving exploration of a failing marriage, cleverly disguised within the framework of a murder mystery and courtroom drama.
The masterful direction by Justine Triet (who also co-wrote the film), beautifully captures the subtle nuances of human relationships and the nature of truth, something which resonates particularly loud and clear in a time where there is so much talk about “what’s real?” and what we perceive as “true”.
Triet’s deliberate and exquisite filmmaking decisions, including the pitch-perfect camera angles and long, powerful takes, create an immersive experience, allowing us to intimately connect with the characters.
Many of these directorial decisions are mostly quiet and subtle, but incredibly powerful. I’m thinking of a beautiful moment when the camera focuses on Sandra’s mouth for the longest time as she has to address the court.
We start noticing her lips ever-so-shaking as she tries to speak. We see her internal struggle and feel the weight of her emotional turmoil as she searches for the right words amidst the courtroom tension.
Just a little example of a perfect directorial choice which elevates not just the film and but the stunning performances.
Needless to say, this is really Sandra Hüller’s film. She was great in Toni Erdmann, a few years ago, but do watch her recent The Zone of Interest too if you can. Her performance in this film is really the heart of it. It is astonishing and rightfully lauded by critics everywhere.
The whole cast is perfect (including a dog!!), but I was also struck by the remarkable portrayal by little Milo Machado-Graner, the young actor who plays her blind son (I tried to research him online and he doesn’t look like he is blind at all). His role, as well as being beautifully written, also feels incredibly authentic and honest.
The kid really behaves like one. His action, his confusions, his lies, his reactions to the proceedings add a layer of emotional depth to the film and of course to the familial dynamics within it.
Right from the start, we are seamlessly immersed in a disorienting and ambiguous story. We are offered glimpses into this family and its complicated dynamics. We seem to understand what’s going on, until we don’t, and we start questioning our own thoughts.
This overarching theme of uncertainty and the relentless scrutiny of the truth permeate the whole film and it’s bound to resonated deeply with people and possibly prompt some heartfelt introspection from anyone who’s had a long relationship with a companion.
Speaking from a sort of a vantage point of over 25 years of shared life with my wife, it speaks volumes about the fact that nobody truly knows the intricacies and complexities contained within a marriage.
It is an ensemble of countless moments, emotions, and experiences that cannot be distilled into mere headlines, challenging preconceived notions about the dynamics of a life together. Things are difficult to explain (interestingly the film is also in two languages, enhancing the difficulties in trying to express oneself.
Eventually the viewers become not just passive observers, but actually active participant in the process of unravelling the narrative and slowly turn into jurors themselves.
In the end, Anatomy of a Fall stands as a testament to the power of nuanced storytelling and immersive direction that echoes with the emotional intricacies of human relationships, the complexities of marriage and the concept of truth.
The film is not profoundly moving (I was struggling to read the subtitles towards the end), and a thought-provoking piece of cinema which certainly merits the Cannes prize it got a few months ago.
Anatomy of a Fall is out in cinemas now.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023
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