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"Anatomy of a Fall": Movie Review

Updated: Jan 27


ANATOMY OF A FALL


Blurb: A woman is suspected of her husband's murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the main witness.


Starring: Sandra Hüller

Swann Arlaud

Milo Machado Graner

Antoine Reinartz

Samuel Theis

Jehnny Beth

Saadia Bentaieb

Camille Rutherford

Anne Rotger

Sophie Fillières

Directed by: Justine Triet

Written by: Justine Triet & Arthur Harari


BEN'S REVIEW: Gritty, and very real, this picture is exhausting. It doesn’t feel like a movie, with some scenes filmed with a hand-held camera adding to the feeling that we are watching something real. Even a documentary.

 

Sandra Maleski is our protagonist, and at the beginning of the movie, her husband is killed. How is where the movie takes us, and why. He is found on the ground, under the third-floor balcony of their home in France. Was he pushed? Did he fall? Was he murdered and pushed from the window so it would look like an accident? Was it a suicide?

 

To Sandra’s surprise, she is immediately suspected of murder, and you don’t want to go to trial in France! Guilty until proven innocent has been my opinion of the cases that I’ve seen and read about from real life.

 

We learn that her husband blamed himself for the fact that their son is near blind. He was supposed to pick up Daniel—their son—from school but asks the babysitter to do it instead, which makes the pickup late, and while crossing the street, the boy is hit with a motorcycle permanently damaging his optic nerve.

 

The trial is grueling to watch, and I had to take a break or two, I am so glad I watched this at home and not in the theater like I would normally have done. In fact, I did something I never do, I checked the detailed synopsis to make sure I knew the ending! Not because I was going to stop watching if she went to prison, but the tension of the film was palatable, and anxiety isn’t something I've wanted to deal with lately.

 

Much of all of this was due to the brilliant performance of Sandra Hüller as the accused murderer Sandra Voyter and Swann Arlaud as her lawyer Vincent Renzi. They were so real. Even Milo Machado Graner, who played the son, Daniel, did a fine job.


I was really shocked to see that in a French Court although witnesses and lawyers can basically talk at the same time. Rather than have each witness go up separately, and then get talked to by the prosecution, and then get talked to by the lawyers, there's cross talk. This movie review is not to judge the way the French conduct law, but I'm glad I don't live in France. I think I would be very careful not to even jaywalk if I went there to visit. The point is is that it made the tension like something you would cut with a knife.


In the middle of the movie, we make an abrupt scene switch from the court to an argument that Sandra had with her husband in their home. It's a very long scene. Well done, powerfully acted, interesting that the director handled it the way she did, instead of us just having to sit in the courtroom listening to a tape, it allowed us to get to know the couple better, but to see this in the courtroom drama. It was a little discombobulating, although it did route allow us to see that Sandra Hüller really is a fantastic an actress.


As the movie begins to come to its peak and conclusion, Daniel becomes important to the story, and I was really impressed by his talent as an actor. I really don't like very many child actors. Milo Machado Graner was wonderful.


But I also felt the movie was longer than it needed to be. It's a sllllooooow burn. Even when we find out what the jury decides we are just left....hanging.


I suppose that's life. And this movie certainly presents a life.


Now.... Would I watch this movie again? Probably not. Once was enough. However, it was enough that I know I'll consider watching future movies with either Sandra Hüller as one of its stars, or Justine Triet as its director. And that is enough for me to give this seven out of ten.


BEN'S RATING: ☕☕☕☕ X X X


SYNOPSIS:

Warning: The following is a complete synopsis of the movie. It's nothing but spoilers. Read at your own risk!


In an isolated mountain chalet near Grenoble, Samuel Maleski is playing music in his attic so loudly that his wife, German bisexual novelist Sandra Voyter, asks to reschedule with the female student interviewing her. Their son, Daniel, returns from a long walk with his guide dog Snoop to find Samuel dead below his attic window. Talking to an old friend, lawyer Vincent Renzi, Sandra says the fall must have been accidental.

When Vincent says that the court will not believe that, Sandra tells Vincent about Samuel's attempt to overdose on aspirin six months earlier, after having gone off antidepressants. Vincent notes a bruise on her arm, which she tells him resulted from bumping into a countertop.


Daniel tells the police investigation that his parents were having a calm talk when he left the house but gives conflicting accounts of exactly where he was standing. This, combined with an autopsy revealing Samuel's head wound occurring before his body hit the ground, blood spatter, and an audio recording Samuel made of a fight he and Sandra had the day before he died, prompts an indictment.


During the trial, Sandra's defense team claims Samuel fell from the attic window and hit his head on a shed, while the prosecution's theory is that Sandra hit him with a blunt object and pushed him from the third-floor balcony. During a courtroom argument with Samuel's psychiatrist, who insists Samuel had no suicidal intent, she talks of her resentment towards Samuel.


In the recorded fight, Samuel accuses her of plagiarism, infidelity, and exerting control over his life. The protracted argument turns physically violent, but it is not clear who is hitting whom. The prosecution claims that all the violence was coming from Sandra. She says that she had thrown a glass at a wall and slapped Samuel's face, and that the bruises on her arms were due to Samuel grabbing her, and that the rest of the violence heard was Samuel beating on himself.


After Sandra admits to having had an affair with a woman the year before Samuel's death, the prosecution argues that Samuel's loud music indicated jealousy over Sandra's flirting with the interviewer, leading to a physical confrontation where the prosecution claims Sandra killed him. The prosecutor notes her pattern of writing her personal conflicts into her stories and how murdering Samuel could mirror a minor character's thoughts from her most recent novel.


Sandra protests that one audio recording does not remotely represent the nature of their marriage, nor do the words of a character in one of her novels reflect her own inclinations. Disturbed by what has transpired, Daniel insists on testifying before closing arguments the following Monday, and the judge lays strict ground rules to prevent anyone from influencing Daniel's testimony, including bringing in a court monitor, Marge, and demanding that all conversations must be held in French, in spite of Sandra's struggles with the language.


Daniel then asks that Sandra leave their house for the weekend so there will only be Marge to watch over him and Snoop. After hearing Sandra's testimony about Samuel's aspirin overdose, Daniel has remembered that Snoop became sick at that time and now suspects that Snoop had eaten some of Samuel's vomit, so that weekend he deliberately feeds Snoop aspirin and finds it has the same effect, which aligns with Sandra's testimony.


Daniel confides to Marge his anguish over trying to determine what is truth, who advises him that sometimes when we do not know what is really true, we can instead just decide what's true for us. On the witness stand, Daniel says that if his mother did this, he cannot understand it, but if his father did it, he can. He testifies that when he and Samuel were driving Snoop to the veterinarian, his father spoke to him about the need to be prepared that those he loves will die and to know that his life will go on, which Daniel now sees as Samuel's own suicidal thoughts.


Sandra is soon acquitted after Daniel's testimony. When she comes home, Daniel tells her he was afraid of her homecoming and she says that she was too, which leads to a warm reuniting hug. As Sandra heads off to bed, she lingers at a photo of her and Samuel before falling asleep with Snoop.*

 

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1 commentaire


Will Jones
Will Jones
26 janv.

I might have to check it out.

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