Review: In Justine Triet’s hands, the courtroom becomes a darkly comic battleground, where the stakes are life and death, but the weapons are wit. Anatomy of a Fall is as much a legal thriller as it is a front-row seat to the most outrageous courtroom circus you’ll see in 2023.
Justine Triet‘s Palme d’Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall isn’t your typical whodunit. It’s a slow-burn descent into the icy crevasses of a marriage fractured by suspicion and infidelity. Perched in their isolated mountain chalet, the Voyter family are more than just shrouded in mist – they’re entangled in a web of unspoken resentments and veiled infidelities.
Sandra Hüller delivers a performance that deserves awards and standing ovations. She inhabits Sandra Voyter with the quiet intensity of a woman trapped in a snowstorm of grief and suspicion. Every flicker of her eyes, every subtle shift in her posture, speaks volumes about the unspoken resentment, the buried secrets, and the gnawing uncertainty that consume her. It’s a masterclass in controlled emotion, a simmering vulnerability that keeps you glued to the screen, desperate to unravel the truth buried beneath her stoic facade.
This dual performance as Sandra in Anatomy of a Fall and the unsettling portrayal of Hedwig in The Zone of Interest showcases Hüller’s remarkable range and talent for disappearing into complex, challenging roles. Both these films premiered at Cannes this year, marking a triumphant ascent for the actress. While Hedwig inhabits the chilling depths of moral ambiguity, Sandra grapples with the emotional fallout of personal betrayal. Yet, Hüller imbues both characters with a raw humanity that makes them impossible to dismiss or easily categorize. It’s a testament to her captivating screen presence that she navigates these vastly different landscapes with such depth and conviction, leaving a lasting impression on audiences long after the credits roll.
The dialogue crackles like the windswept snow against the chalet windows, each word a jagged shard of unspoken emotions. One scene, in particular, stands as an example of Justine Triet’s masterful storytelling. A recorded fight between Sandra and her husband explodes in the courtroom, the audio painting a brutal picture of their volatile dynamic. Yet, the camera remains fixed on the impassive faces of the jury, leaving us to glean the truth from their shifting expressions and stolen glances.
Anatomy of a Fall is certainly not a film that delivers easy answers. It is a deep meditation on the complexities of love and loss, the elusiveness of truth, and the enduring bond that can survive even the deepest betrayals. It’s Gone Girl meets The Ice Storm, with a dash of French existentialism for good measure.
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As the trial unfolds, the stark beauty of the Alps gives way to the absurdly ornate stage of the French courtroom. Here, legal arguments morph into operatic performances, lawyers preen and bellow like tragedians, and every outburst is punctuated by gasps and whispers from the opposing gallery. Justine Triet masterfully uses the courtroom as a microcosm of human drama, where truth gets buried under layers of theatrics and ambition. Witness testimonies become melodramatic monologues, evidence transforms into props for grandstanding, and every objection is delivered with enough melodramatic flair to make a any actor blush.
It’s a delirious dance of ego and spectacle, a bizarre blend of tragedy and farce that somehow never feels gratuitous. In Triet’s hands, the courtroom becomes a darkly comic battleground, where the stakes are life and death, but the weapons are wit. Anatomy of a Fall is as much a legal thriller as it is a front-row seat to the most outrageous courtroom circus you’ll see in 2023.
Anatomy of a Fall is not a film that dispenses answers like candy. It lingers, a haunting melody played on the taut strings of uncertainty. You’re left grappling with lingering questions, the chill of the Alpine ambiguity clinging to your skin. Yet, within this unsettling embrace, there’s a strange beauty. Justine Triet and Sandra Hüller don’t offer comfort, but they do offer truth – the messy, uncomfortable truth of human relationships, where love and betrayal can exist in the same breath, where grief manifests in a thousand silent screams. It’s a film that won’t go away, not just with its plot twists, but with its exploration of the human heart, its capacity for both love and devastation, and its eternal quest for understanding in the face of the unknowable.
Watch Anatomy of a Fall on VOD here
Anatomy of a Fall Cast and Credits
Sandra Hüller as Sandra Voyter
Swann Arlaud as Maitre Vincent Renzi
Milo Machado-Graner as Daniel
Samuel Theis as Samuel Maleski
Antoine Reinartz as The Prosecutor
Director: Justine Triet
Cinematography: Simon Beaufils
Editor: Laurent Sénéchal