During the second day of the Jakarta World Cinema Week 2023, attendees were treated to a screening of one of the festival’s most highly anticipated films. This particular movie had achieved the remarkable feat of winning the prestigious Palm d’Or award at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Titled “Anatomy of a Fall,” it had garnered immense curiosity due to its deceptively simple premise.
The film’s apparent simplicity, however, did not diminish its impact in any way. Director and writer Justine Triet masterfully transformed this seemingly straightforward concept into an extraordinary cinematic experience. Much of the credit for this achievement goes to the lead actress, Sandra Hüller, whose performance earned accolades from both film critics and audiences, elevating the film to new heights.
“Anatomy of a Fall” achieved remarkable acclaim on various film review aggregators. Rotten Tomatoes, for instance, boasted a staggering 96% approval rating based on 183 positive critic reviews. Metacritic was equally impressed, awarding the film a score of 86 out of 100, indicating widespread critical acclaim.
French-language reviews on AlloCiné painted a similarly rosy picture, as the film averaged an impressive rating of 4.4/5 based on 40 reviews. In summary, “Anatomy of a Fall” garnered widespread praise from critics, who were quick to laud the exceptional talents of both Triet and Hüller. This acclaim translated into box office success, as the film attracted over a million viewers during its screenings in France.
Anatomy of a Fall (2023) Synopsis
One fateful day, tragedy struck the household of Samuel (portrayed by Samuel Theis). His lifeless body was discovered just outside the family residence, a home he shared with his wife, Sandra (played by Sandra Hüller), and their 11-year-old son, Daniel (portrayed by Milo Machado Graner), who happened to be visually impaired. This grim discovery prompted an immediate investigation, which soon took a troubling turn.
As the inquiry unfolded, suspicion loomed large, ultimately leading to the unsettling conclusion of foul play in Samuel’s demise. The weighty accusation of murdering her husband was leveled against Sandra, setting the stage for a harrowing trial that would determine her fate. Amidst the courtroom drama, their young son, Daniel, who attended the proceedings, found himself caught in the crossfire, torn between the legal battle his mother faced and the tumultuous dynamics within their family home. The burning question remained: What lay ahead for the mother-son relationship in the wake of these tumultuous events?
Anatomy of a Fall Movie Review
A simple premise with a compelling character exploration
Anatomy of a Fall boasts a straightforward premise, which is the exploration of its compelling characters. Upon reading the synopsis, one might initially perceive the storyline as unassuming and somewhat generic, a familiar theme often encountered in crime drama films.
Nevertheless, what truly sets it apart is the director, Justine Triet’s, ability to transform this basic plot into a complex courtroom drama. Furthermore, Triet skillfully delves deep into Sandra’s personal life, offering an intense and profound examination of her character.
Sandra’s character as the central character of this film really appears attractive. She appeared very cold when she was charged with killing her husband. Sandra, who was defended by her lawyer, Vincent Renzi (Swann Arlaud), prepared Sandra for everything before the trial began.
Starting from preparing answers, matching statements to the judge and prosecutor, and also Sandra’s honesty regarding her relationship with her husband. Not only Sandra, the child was also required to give testimony in court.
The trial, which was held openly to the public, also re-visualized the audio recording obtained by the prosecutor with the original situation for the audience. Triet cleverly doesn’t make this film monotonous with all the stiffness that a court drama has.
This visualization of the real situation also helps the audience to understand the context of the audio recording shown in court.
That way we can judge what Sandra is really like. Was she wrong or not in killing her husband? Or even go through the second option. Her husband killed himself. It was these two scenarios that the prosecutor presented to Sandra who blindly explored her personal life.
Starting from her affair with her female friend, her son becoming blind after being hit by a car, to endless arguments with her husband which ended in a physical altercation.
The prosecutor leveled all these accusations at Sandra and Sandra answered them all coldly and almost without excessive emotion. Only his son can now free himself. One important statement from Daniel that could exonerate his mother from all charges.
Anatomy of a Fall Conclusion
Anatomy of a Fall is not just an ordinary court drama whose job is to determine whether a person is right or not in the eyes of the law. Because from the start we knew that this was Samuel’s suicide attempt, but that’s not what this film wants to reveal.
Explicitly, Anatomy of a Fall actually lays bare the private lives of the couple Sandra and Samuel in the public eye and also in front of their child who is only 11 years old!
What Sandra revealed to the court was actually a ‘killing’ metaphor through the expressions of her heart that she said to her husband during their marriage. Especially because of her husband’s inability to escape from Sandra’s shadow, whether in writing novels or when he felt guilty because his child had an accident.
Samuel was lost in the reality he had to face and this long process made Sandra express her sexual desires which her husband could not satisfy. Sandra creates her own world without feeling dependent on her husband. This indirectly made her husband depressed and he did something he had never imagined before.
Anatomy of a Fall is one of the best examples of psychological films about humans and their context with interpersonal social relationships. Unfortunately, the duration is too long (up to 2.5 hours) which will make some people bored, because the scenes in the courtroom could be shortened, due to the large number of repetitions in several scenes.
Sandra Hüller plays a very good role in this film and deserves to be awarded the Best Actress award at many international film festivals, as does Justine Triet who succeeded in directing this film with all the complexity of its truth which feels very ambiguous.