‘Anatomy of a Fall’ Review: Falling from the Alps to the Courtroom | ET REALITY


“Anatomy of a Fall,” a cerebral drama from director Justine Triet, begins with a mysterious death in the French Alps. The deceased is an aspiring writer named Samuel (Samuel Theis). The suspect is his most successful wife, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), a novelist who is a lot like her surroundings: stoic, remote and a little cold.

Did Sandra kill her husband? As the film moves from investigation to court to verdict, it is only interested in the question, not the answer. Triet and her screenwriter partner (and real-life partner) Arthur Harari invite a jury to analyze the flaws of a fairly normal woman. Sandra drinks, but she is not drunk. She is distant, but not cruel. She needs sex, but she is not the aggressor that the prosecutor (Antoine Reinartz) describes.

His most confusing trait is, if his testimony is to be believed, the ability to take a nap while Samuel spends his last hour of life repeating a cover of 50 Cent’s “PIMP” at such a volume that deafening steel drums could have caused an avalanche The closest anyone gets to a motive is when Sandra’s inquisitors suggest that she was upset by the song’s misogynistic lyrics. Her lawyer (Saadia Bentaïeb) responds: “It was an instrumental version.”

All people are unknowable, the film insists, even to themselves. If any of us were forced to defend our inconsistencies and lies—the fights we avoid, the commitments that make us seethe in silence—we would all be condemned for irreconcilable contradictions. (It’s still a lesser crime than murder.) Sandra just has to confess her internal friction before a court where her rationalizations float in the air as silly as circus balloons.

The film doesn’t need to spend two and a half hours intoning that life is an anthology of competing narratives, that every marriage is made up of two narrators. But at least he finds some ways to press the idea, most resonantly through Sandra and Samuel’s books, which draw on a mix of biography and fiction (as does the protagonist of Triet’s latest film, ” Sibyl”, another author disastrously mining reality). That confusion, notes a student (Camille Rutherford) who interviews Sandra for her thesis in the first scene, “makes us want to figure out which is which.” Sandra smiles at the challenge. Later, however, her freedom will depend on how a jury analyzes her truth from the interpretations of others.

As experts take the stand to insist that their version of events is correct, cinematographer Simon Beaufils switches from a composite style to one that speeds up and zooms in, like a documentary on the fly. Watching a witness dodge questions from both the prosecution and defense, the image remains fixed on him as the camera races back and forth to keep pace with the arguments emerging from each side. The whiplash is dizzying.

The most important judge in the room is the couple’s preteen son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner). Partially blind due to an accident featured in the case, Daniel is uncomfortable becoming a character in the lawyers’ competing narratives. His poor vision is a metaphor for the struggle to see the truth. A more poetic allusion is how the child learns piano by himself, not by reading sheet music, but by discovering through trial and error which notes sound good. As a bonus, we hear the passage of time as it improves.

Triet’s filmmaking style is deliberate, an unusual approach for a story about ambiguity. She wants the viewer to decide Sandra’s guilt (even a secondary character says it openly) and so she withholds both the answer and the pleasure of feeling that we can solve it. Even Hüller, that type of simple and sincere actor who builds his characters from the backbone, has admitted that she It’s not sure if Sandra did it.

In a sense, Triet has charted a path to nowhere. You can respect his choice intellectually and still walk away grumbling in frustration, or appreciating the humor of this year’s Cannes jury that definitively awarded his film the Palme d’Or. I’ve re-studied some scenes and I think Triet knows what happened in the mountain. But he has also added unacknowledged feints and discrepancies, indignities that exist only for the public. These are secrets that Triet only shares with us and with the dead man. And I suspect he is taking them to his grave.

Anatomy of a fall
Rated R for violent language and images. Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes. On cinemas.

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