Blu-ray Review: Anatomy of a Fall | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  

Anatomy of a Fall

Studio: The Criterion Collection

May 28, 2024 Web Exclusive Photography by The Criterion Collection Bookmark and Share

Winner of the 2023 Palme d’Or as well as Best Original Screenplay at the 2024 Oscars, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall has taken on a life of its own since its release. “Did she do it?” was one of the most asked film questions of the year. The film’s dog, Messi, went viral, even making a surprise appearance at the Oscars. 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P” had a second life, due to its pivotal usage in the film. Besides the obvious meme potential found in all of the aforementioned factors, Anatomy of a Fall is a chilling, tense courtroom thriller that transcends and outlasts the ephemera of its individual elements.

In Anatomy of a Fall, a woman named Sandra (played by Sandra Hüller in a virtuoso performance) is suspected of murdering her husband Samuel after his mysterious fall out of their beautiful, Alps-located chalet’s third-floor window. Her son, Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner), who is visually impaired, becomes an important witness in the subsequent trial.

Simply put, Anatomy of a Fall is a courtroom drama for people who hate courtroom dramas. Even if one finds the genre to be a bit dry, the film’s courtroom scenes are arguably its most compelling overall. The way information about Sandra and Samuel’s relationship begins to morph and twist our perception of them as the narrative progresses is spectacular, tensely keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat.

The glue that really holds the film together is the incredible performances across the board. Hüller’s performance, which has nabbed her a considerable number of nominations and wins, is arguably 2023’s best performance. The centerpiece of the film is a flashback of an intensely heated argument between Sandra and Samuel that turns violent—played out loud, during the trial, as evidence. In this argument, the two of them hash out issues and resentments that have been festering for a long time. Hüller’s big monologue has been one of the most talked about cinematic moments of 2023, and for good reason.

Machado-Graner’s performance is also astounding, bringing nuance and emotion to the character of Daniel. He has two big scenes in the film where he brings an intense amount of vulnerability, and it is very impressive for such a young actor. Even the dog in the film, Snoop (played by Messi) has a big scene in which he really has to perform—and he absolutely kills it.

Anatomy of a Fall constantly deals with the subjective nature of truth. In the court of law, there are the facts, and it is seemingly very objective. But, as we see in the film, even that is clearly not true. Antoine Reinartz plays a very aggressive prosecutor who is clearly biased against Sandra and always points out the evidence that may suggest she’s guilty without ever taking into account her perspective or evidence that would prove contrary to his opinion.

This film dives into the complexity of human relations—specifically romantic relationships—and the subjectivities that play out on both sides. Not just the complexity of relationships, but the complexity of events that occur in these relationships (case in point, the recording of the heated argument that is used as evidence in the middle of the film). Everyone brings their own emotional baggage from past experiences and relationships that influence their perceptions of the events that transpired between Sandra and Samuel. As such, in a place like a courtroom—which is supposed to deal with concrete facts—things are never as concrete as they seem.

Anatomy of a Fall was shot by Simon Beaufils, who also shot Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart (2018). This film is rendered in a very standard fashion, but every now and then there will be an off-kilter shot—like a quick zoom or a pan—that really feels out of left field and keeps the viewer on their toes. Additionally, there’s a very interesting usage of music in the film—notably, a prominent usage of a steel drum rendition of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” It becomes a recurring motif throughout which provides an interesting dimension to the film.

The new Criterion edition of the film boasts an impressive number of special features. The first is an immensely interesting 30-minute interview with director Triet. There are also a number of audition videos with Machado-Graner and Reinartz, in addition to rehearsal footage between Machado-Graner and Hüller. And, of course, there is an adorable featurette which features Messi alongside his trainer, Laura Martin.



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