Review Anatomy of a Fall by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Anatomy of a Fall, Dir: Justine Triet. Certificate 15, 152mins

After much buzz at winning the Palme d’Or, Justine Triet and her Alpine whodunnit could just be an Oscar contender for next year. I’m still thinking of last year’s winner: The Triangle of Sadness  and it’s safe to say I much prefer that oddity over this.

Out of the few cinema encounters I’ve had his year, The Anatomy of a Fall is my least favourite. There are several things I struggled with. Our lead character Sandra, and her son Daniel are grieving the loss of husband and father, Samuel. This fall in question is from their chalet, as pounding steel drum RnB is heard throughout, Sandra unable to continue with an interview recording at the same time. She becomes suspect number one and the entirety of the film is her striving for innocence, aside the doubts and experiments of her blind son Daniel. We along with the law, discover the fraught relationship between Sandra and Samuel, the latter having contributed to the blinding of their son. Can Sandra come away from the accusations? Or is she or Daniel involved in something more sinister?

The performances fair well, Sandra Hüller as Sandra is highly appealing, stoic in many moments, impassioned in others. This is a highly convincing role. Milo Machado Graner as Daniel, impressing as a child performer with acting chops I think any child aspiring in the industry would envy. Sandra’s defendant is Swann Arlaud as Vincent, an elegant and subtle role. Samuel Theis as Samuel (I am wondering why some actors are playing their namesake in character), is seen through flashbacks, though mostly through his voice memos. One blazing scene between the couple, later played in court goes into their furious deterioration and I’d say, is the best scene in the film.

It was a bit on the long side in length. My major gripe is some strange camera ideas and supporting actors not quite fitting the roles within the court. I’m no expert, but the way some of proceedings for the trail were executed had some odd, fast and loose qualities. Being mostly in French, the film takes some typical swipes at the English language, Sandra being German spoke it with French partner Samuel as it was easier for her. The court insist she speak French, even though a translator is present. Bizarrely, Jehnny Beth as Marge, is Daniel’s guardian issued by the court, has a near identical haircut to him. The flippant remark about Sandra being being bisexual,  might have led into an interesting fling with Marge. This was not explored. I just cannot get over the ludicrous dramatic zoom in upon the judges face, right after the fight recording is played. Something which really brought me out if the film.

We never really find out what exactly happened to Samuel, there was talk of suicide, Sandra getting off scot free, even with the frayed relationship with her son. If I am spending this much time in a film, I do insist on at least some form of closure.

Anatomy of a Fall is out now on limited release. 

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