October 9, 2023

VIFF 2023 | 'Anatomy of a Fall' Puts Itself on Trial

"The trial is not about the truth."
Swann Arlaud Justine Triet | Anatomy of a Fall | VIFF 2023
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2023—French director Justine Triet systemically unfolds a taut courtroom thriller in the Palme d'Or-winning Anatomy of a Fall (aka Anatomie d'une chute). Centred around a husband's highly suspicious death after an intense argument with his prime suspect wife, Triet carefully layers the legal psychodrama through suspense, mystery, and intrigue.

German actress Sandra Hüller gives a truly stunning, deeply nuanced performance as a mother and widower in crisis mode on trial for her combative husband's unseen fall and death off the roof of their remote French ski chalet home. She keeps audiences guessing in every scene as to her innocence or guilt. Swann Arlaud co-stars as her friend and defence attorney in a stoic, voice-of-reason role primed to objectively look at the case. However, it's Milo Machado-Graner as Hüller's blind young son questioning what he heard or observed that steals the film in a pivotal role and audience surrogate.

Scripted by Triet and Arthur Harari, its dramatic interpretation of the French legal system seems wildly at odds with what non-French viewers are likely accustomed to compared to the usual, more familiar American or British courtroom interrogations to most Western audiences. This uniqueness only further heightens the dramatic tension and stakes of the murder trial.

Its preciseness and whipsmart construction make Anatomy of a Fall such a thrilling experience. We are left to our own opinions and interpretations of the protagonist's guilt or innocence. Triet and Hüller craft an unnerving film firmly calibrated to generate cinematic anxiety.

Anatomy of a Fall screened at the 2023 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations series at the Vancouver Playhouse.

More | YVArcade / AWFJ / ScreenDaily

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