Throughout the making of Anatomy of A Fall, Sandra Hüller repeatedly asked the film’s writer and director Justine Triet whether her character is guilty or not. Triet refused to answer. The audience, like Hüller, are left with the space to draw their own theories and resolutions with regards to the film’s central event. This strand of ambiguity is an immensely effective narrative device employed throughout Anatomy of A Fall, Triet’s fourth feature film and winner of the 2023 Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the course of the 152 minute runtime, we get to know Sandra Voyter – excellently portrayed by Hüller in her second collaboration with Triet – a German writer who is the primary suspect in the mysterious death of her French husband, Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis). Brilliantly realised, Hüller is completely captivating in delivering the complexities of her multifaceted character in every scene. Audiences immediately gravitate and project themselves on to Swann Arlaud’s character Vincent Renzi, her friend and lawyer, who displays both confidence and uncertainty towards Sandra’s unfortunate situation.
The story promptly pivots to become an intense courtroom procedural which often heralds certain stylistic and story choices typically associated with horror from the 1970s and ‘80s with the claustrophobic setting of an isolated cabin (on this occasion, we’re in France) and a couple whose relationship has gravely disintegrated, usurped by bitterness and jealousy. Triet then uses the vehicle of the trial to give audiences an invasive dissection into the minute details of Sandra and Samuel’s fractious partnership from the perspectives of their personal, and crucially, professional lives. The strength in the direction, writing and performances across the cast (a special nod to Milo Machado-Graner who plays Samuel and Sandra’s eleven-year-old son, Daniel) consistently keeps you engaged and wondering where the story will take you. Anatomy of A Fall is a tremendous body of work, one not to be missed.
Words: Zara Hedderman
Anatomy of a Fall
Director: Justine Triet
Talent: Sandra Hüller, Samuel Theis, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado-Graner
Release Date: November 10