With Anatomy of a Fall, writer/director Justine Triet gives audiences one of the most realistic courtroom dramas ever made for the big screen.
The film gives viewers a full perspective of the procedural endurance that a widowed author, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), experiences when her husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis) dies from a mysterious fall from their balcony. After the incident, we see multiple examinations as Sandra and her lawyer, Vincent (Swann Arlaud) prepare for the trial. One year later, Sandra is in the thick of it as her past with Samuel plays a key role in defending herself against suspicions that she could be behind the death of her husband.
The build-up towards the court case is interesting and keeps the audience guessing. The dynamic between Sandra and Vincent is a memorable relationship as well; especially when Vincent is assisting Sandra with particular phrasing despite believing the cause behind the death was an accident. The trial (taking up the bulk of the film’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime) has its peaks and valleys, which commits to the pacing of a legitimate trial but may not always make for compelling filmmaking. Sandra’s seeing-impaired son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner, in a star-making performance) always brings a special energy whenever the character’s on screen. From his heated and helpless frustration to his silenced sadness, Graner pulls movie goers forward. A scene featuring adults talking around and about him as the camera trucks back and forth is absolutely brilliant.
Anatomy of a Fall, however, doesn’t have much of a personality and often comes across as a very cold film. Again, this may be faithful to the emotional disconnect lost in courtroom procedures but, with Anatomy of a Fall fulfilling so much realism already, Triet could’ve found more personal connections to the characters. Intimate moments between Sandra and Vincent and an explosive recording of Sandra and her late husband only tease at what the movie could’ve offered more of.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie