Monday 22 May 2023

Cannes 2023 - Anantomy of a Fall by Justine Triet

Justine Triet has had an interesting and promising career so far that has been part of the Cannes Film Festival since her first film Age of Panic was selected in the fringe sidebar ACID back in 2013. Her next, In Bed with Victoria, was in Directors' Fortnight in 2016 then she graduated to the official selection with Sybil in 2019 and she is back this year with Anatomy of a Fall.

Her first two films had a comedic aspect, chartering the lives of third-something women as they negotiated their love lives and generally modern life. Sybil was more ambitious, perhaps overtly ambitious and slightly confusing in which the director added a more dramatic tone and a more psychologically dense exploration of her work as an artist and director. 

With Anatomy of a Fall she goes into even darker territories as the film follows the court case of Sandra (Sandra Hüller), a woman suspected of the murder of her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) after he dies in mysterious circumstances in a fall that may not have been accidental. 

The film opens with a compelling and somehow confrontational scene that sets the tone for what is to follow. Sandra is a novelist and she is being interviewed by a student in the family own in the Alps while Samuel is playing a purposely very loud music to disrupt the proceeding. With the camera firmly set on the German actress, the scene of their marriage is set, with the petty behaviour of Samuel and Sandra's hiding her grievance while there are hints of a flirtatious behaviour with the young female interviewer. 

What follows is the dissection of a slowly imploding relationship told through flashbacks through a narrative device in which court scenes in which the jury is played some audio files that the film make us relive as they happened and it is just as utterly compelling as it is utterly terrifying, all the more so as the couple's visually impaired son, Daniel had been witness to their arguments, having to rely on audio cues without ever really seeing what happened. 

The verbal violence of these arguments make them feel so raw but always believable as years of resentment and disappointment at each other and in Samuel's case, themselves (he was obviously jealous of his wife's increasing success when his high standards made his own career stagnate) explode. Considering how Justine Triet's previous films all had some autobiographical or at least very personal elements, finding out after seeing this film that she co-wrote the script with her partner Arthur Harari gives is an unexpected dimension!

Among a great cast, Sandra Hüller gives the performance of her career, an already illustrious career (who can forget her in Toni Herdmann) in an incredibly powerful and affecting film that is bound to have a spot in the awards.

Review by Laurent de Alberti

Star rating: 

Official Selection, in Competition

Anatomy of a Fall. Directed by Justine Triet. Starring Sandra Hüller, Samuel Theis...

No comments:

Post a Comment