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‘Anatomy of a Fall’: Exploring the depths of doubt

Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) walks away, deep in thought, after a pivotal meeting with her lawyer Vincent (Swann Arlaud) in the legal drama “Anatomy of a Fall,” which has received five Academy Award nominations. Directed by Justine Triet, the film delves into the complex trial following Sandra’s husband’s mysterious death and its repercussions on a family torn by secrets. (Photo: NEON)

As snow gently blankets the secluded French Alps chalet, the interview with novelist Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) is abruptly cut short. Her son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who has a visual impairment, and his guide dog, Snoop, stumble upon a grim discovery — Sandra’s husband, Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis), lying motionless, with crimson staining the snow beneath his head. This critical scene drives the narrative of “Anatomy of a Fall,” a brilliantly crafted French legal drama.

Directed by Justine Triet, the film had its world premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 21 and released in theaters on Aug. 23. This story follows Sandra as the line between accident and foul play blurs, challenging viewers to consider the depths of human relationships and the toxicity within them.

The majority of the plot revolves around Samuel’s death and the conflicting evidence present in the police’s investigation. Sandra’s stance: Her husband’s death was simply an accident. He just fell from the attic window and hit his head on the shed below. Nevertheless, the prosecution suspected that Sandra hit him with a blunt object and pushed him from the third-floor balcony, resulting in her indictment on charges for homicide. She goes to court to clear her name not just to abide by the law, but for Daniel, who grapples with conflicting memories and loyalties.

The contrast between the chaotic courtroom and the intimate family interactions is evident as Hüller brings to life vulnerability and resilience. With her lawyer and old friend, Vincent (Swann Arlaud), by her side, their persevering dynamic battles the case with determination.

The film delves into fidelity, perception and the elusive nature of truth throughout. Sandra and Vincent’s shared past is revealed, casting doubt over Vincent’s belief in Sandra’s innocence and weaving additional intrigue into the unfolding mystery.

The soundtrack is dominated by an instrumental cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” This unexpected choice reverberates throughout the film as the tune is a reminder of Sandra’s dysfunctional relationship with Samuel and illustrates the complexity of Sandra’s grief, with relentless persistence that amplifies the tension.

The cinematography captures the beauty of the French Alps with breathtaking precision, creating a backdrop that is elegant yet peculiar. Each scene is perfectly framed to enhance the emotional weight of the story, including close-ups that display characters’ innermost thoughts and wide shots that emphasize their isolation. The set design and visual effects work together to build a world that feels authentic and immersive, drawing the viewer into each scene.

At two and a half hours, “Anatomy of a Fall” manages to captivate its audience, thanks to the cast’s moving performances. The actors convey a profound depth of feeling that resonates with all. However, certain parts were a bit slow, which might test the patience of some audience members. Regardless, they provided an opportunity for necessary character development. The film’s powerful plot, coupled with the actors’ expressive portrayals, allows the audience to truly feel the characters’ struggles and triumphs.

Crafted with depth and detail, “Anatomy of a Fall” is the film that deserves the five Oscar nominations it received this year. From the actors’ remarkable performances to the careful composition of each scene, Triet’s work invites the audience to immerse themselves in the harsh realities of marriage and family life.

“Anatomy of a Fall”

2 hours, 32 minutes

Rated R for some language, sexual references and violent images

Directed by Justine Triet

Starring Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud and Milo Machado-Graner

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About the Contributor
Allison Ma
Allison Ma, Culture Editor
Allison Ma (Class of 2026) joined The Paly Voice her sophomore year and enjoys running, baking and watching TV shows.

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    AndyMar 7, 2024 at 10:58 am

    Excellent review and I definitely want to watch the movie!