Anatomy Of A Fall Review: A Suspense-Filled Courtroom Drama

Anatomy Of A Fall Review: A Suspense-Filled Courtroom Drama

This courtroom drama won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2023.

Troy RibeiroUpdated: Friday, February 02, 2024, 11:10 AM IST
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Film Review: A Suspense-Filled Courtroom Drama |

Title: Anatomy of a Fall

Director: Justine Triet

Cast: Sandra Huller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Antoine Reinartz, Samuel Theis, Jehnny Beth, Sophie Fillieres

Where: In theatres

Rating: ****

This courtroom drama won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2023.

The layered film begins like a generic murder mystery but becomes an analysis of a different kind of fall than the literal one at its center. It simultaneously and subtly analyses the decline or fall of a relationship between a married couple. More than just the courtroom drama, the film is about a tussle of wills.

In this case, Sandra Voyter (Sandra Huller), a German novelist, is put on trial for murder after her husband falls from the attic window of their chalet in France.

Set in the French Alps, the film begins in an isolated mountain chalet with Sandra giving an interview as a famous author to Zoe (Camille Rutherford), a graduate student. As the interview progresses, their conversation becomes flirtatious, and soon, loud music emanating from the attic, ostensibly played by Sandra’s writer-husband Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis), drowns their conversation- making it impossible to continue. The interviewer leaves.

Soon, Sandra and Samuel’s pre-teen son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who is visually impaired, leave the chalet for a long walk with his dog Snoop. When he returns, the music is still pervading, and he finds his father sprawled in the snow beside the chalet, with a deep wound on his head and a trail of blood.

The police are called in, and thence begins Sandra’s nightmare. Did Samuel fall, or was he pushed from the attic? Was it an accident, or was it a murder? An inconclusive inquest into Samuel’s death finds Sandra on trial, with her son called as one of the key witnesses in the case. 

While the narrative becomes a puzzle to be solved, and it does get solved, it also delves into where communication, or lack of it, between couples can lead. Without any frills, the film, mounted in a non-fussy manner, is taut and focussed. The look and feel of the mounting add to the already existing tension in the drama.

Huller’s intense and stunning appearance helps her portray Sandra’s motives and half-buried skeletons perfectly. Huller never resorts to melodrama, and this is what elevates the film’s realism.

With a fine blend of frailty and determination, Milo Machado Graner, as Daniel, matches Huller’s powerful histrionics.

Samuel Theis as Sandra’s husband - Samuel Maleski, Swann Arlaud as Sandra’s lawyer - Vincent Renzi, Antoine Reinartz as the shaven-headed prosecutor, and Jenny Beth as Marge, the court-appointed monitor, have their moments of on-screen glory.

A special mention must be given to Daniel’s dog Snoop, who has a substantial role in the proceedings. He is truly adorable when he is sick and helpless.

Overall, what keeps you glued to the screen are- the uncertainty in the plot, the plausibility of the situation, and the way the verdict is revealed. The film lingers in your mindscape much after you leave the theatres.

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