Film: “Anatomy of a Fall” directed by Justine Triet
Picture, if you will, a youngish French couple, Sandra and Samuel, who reside in an isolated chalet near Grenoble with their young son Daniel, who is visually impaired. One snowy day, Daniel takes the dog out for a walk (as his father is loudly playing a somewhat annoying cover of 50-Cent’s “P. I. M. P.” on a loop.) When Daniel returns to the chalet, he finds the body of his father lying in the snow, his head bleeding. An ambulance is called, but Samuel is dead.
The authorities suspect that Sandra, during an altercation with her husband, struck him with a blunt instrument and pushed him out a window to his death. She is indicted and brought to trial.
What exactly went on here? Was there in fact a struggle between husband and wife? Or did Samuel commit suicide and if so, why?
In Justine Frier’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” the subsequent trial bares a great deal of dirty laundry—Sandra (Sandra Hulller) and her bisexual affairs; Samuel’s (Samuel Theis) insecurity and dependency on drugs; and the accident that led to young Daniel’s (Milo Machado Graner) loss of sight. Various forensic experts battle in court over the evidence. The prosecuting attorney (Antoine Renartz) interrogates Sandra mercilessly, while Sandra’s attorney Vincent (Swann Arlaud), who happens to be her ex-lover, strives to create a defense.
Adding tension here is the fact the only person around at the time of Samuel’s death is Daniel, who is still suffering post-traumatic shock.
Triet’s low-key, skillful direction keeps you guessing as to the outcome up until the very last moment. Besides the drama of figuring out who’s telling the truth, the film also provides insights into the French legal system where prosecutors employ tactics that would be shocking to Americans.
“Anatomy” premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palme d’Or and competed for the Palm Dog. It continued to win awards, including two Golden Globes. After being released last August, the film sold over one million admissions, and in its second weekend out, finished in second place ahead of “Barbie” in France. And now it is streaming on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. Check it out, toute de suite.
Like this review? Follow me at “What Does Aug Think?” at acsntn.substack.com. Thank you!