french directorreturns to Competition with a cerebral concussion that could finally bring the Best Actress award that its star, Sandra Hüller, was cruelly denied to her in 2016 when the festival hit of Maren Ade Toni Erdman Lost in all categories. That movie was not everyone’s cup of tea, and the formidable coroner It may not be either, but there’s no denying the magnetism of Hüller’s screen. Between this and her role as “Queen of Auschwitz” in Jonathan Glazer’s equally brilliant Area of Interest, Hüller has Cannes in the palm of his hand. Whether she also gets a Palm in hand is up to the jury.
The French like good courtroom dramas and do them well, like Alice Diop’s. Saint Omer demonstrated last year. Triet’s film very much fits that mold, a fiercely intelligent and deceptively playful drama that uses the genre as a Trojan horse through which it tells the story of the sudden implosion of a normal family.
The setting is a chalet in the snowy French Alps, where Sandra, a well-known German writer, lives with her French husband Samuel (Samuel Theis). Sandra is being interviewed by a young PhD student, who has many questions about Sandra’s fiction, but the meeting is interrupted when Samuel, upstairs and unseen, starts playing a 50 Cent version of PIMP and repeats it. The noise is too much for the student and the couple agree to meet again later. As she leaves, the girl passes the couple’s visually impaired young son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who is walking his dog Snoop.
All these details, seemingly trivial at the time, return later in the plot, for reasons that are about to become clear: returning from his walk, Daniel finds the lifeless body of his father, who has fallen out of the window. from the attic The autopsy reports are inconclusive, and because the body shows signs of severe head trauma, the police are treating the death as suspicious. To defend herself against her, Sandra hires a lawyer, Vincent (Swann Arlaud), who is also an old friend, though their connection is never discussed. Vincent reminds Sandra that he is now under investigation and that, with the best will in the world, his story doesn’t fit. “I didn’t kill him,” he insists. “That’s not the point,” says Vincent.
If it were a simple whodunit, Triet’s film would be just as enjoyable, if a bit too long, but the director’s coup is subverting the pleasures of genre convention to explore themes of schadenfreude and just morbid human curiosity ( is especially interesting to watch after the many conversations about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard court case that accompanied the Cannes premiere screening Joan of Barry last week). Sandra loudly proclaims her innocence, but the evidence begins to mount against her, including the revelation of a secret recording made by Samuel without her knowledge. This scene, shown in flashback, is the centerpiece of the film and is nothing short of magnificent: mousy Sandra is revealed to have a temper, and a simple domestic quarrel quickly escalates into a spiral of ugly and invective violence. .
Questioned in court by a super-sharp-minded prosecutor (Antoine Reinartz), Sandra discovers that all her dirty laundry is being aired: she’s bisexual, she was unfaithful, and she may have plagiarized entire parts of her late husband’s unfinished novel. The trial plays out almost like a script meeting, fleshing out the plot points and motivations, deconstructing their twists and turns as we watch them unfold. The death blow seems to come when the content of Sandra’s novels is used against her, including a character who fantasizes about murdering her husband and a press quote from years ago in which Sandra told a journalist: “My work It is to cover the tracks so that fiction can destroy reality”.
Is that what is happening here? Has Sandra muddied the waters enough to get away with murder, since there isn’t enough evidence either way? Thankfully, anatomy of a fall it is not so formally austere as to leave you dissatisfied, definitely is a satisfactory resolution here. At the same time, it is quite bright. unsatisfying, in a subtly and slyly Hitchcockian way that questions the whole notion of “satisfaction” in the context of a murder trial. And in the background is Hüller’s performance, a disturbing and emotional feat that stays in her mind for a long time and puts her in the top tier of European talent.
Qualification: anatomy of a fall
Section: Cannes (Competition)
Director: justine triett
Screenwriter: Justine Triet, Arthur Harari
Cast: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Samuel Theis
Execution time: 2h31min
Sales Agent: mk2