By – Gareth Jones
For fans of courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, incredible child performances
Anatomy of a Fall is a stunning accomplishment. It is the fourth feature length film directed by Justine Triet and won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, only the third time this has been given to a female directed film. She also co-wrote it with her partner Arthur Harari which is also quite impressive as one of the major themes explored by the film is the dynamic between two writers that are married and what happens when one is successful and the other is not.
As the title tells us, this story begins with a fall, in this case the husband who has fallen from the attic of their home to his death. He and his wife are both authors and have a son, and they have recently moved back to a remote town in France to concentrate on writing and raising their son. The film explores the ramifications of this and slowly reveals the dynamic of the familiar relationships and history. It is a procedural mystery that also showcases the French legal system. The audience is cleverly pulled into this story with incredible performances and film techniques.
The film is centered around the performance of the three leads, German actress Sandra Hüller, who gives a masterclass in acting as the mother/wife Sandra Voyter, the main suspect in the death. Hüller launched onto the international scene in 2016 in another masterpiece Toni Erdmann. She reminds me of Cate Blanchett but really has now created a body of work that speaks for itself. Here, she perfectly captures the balance of did she/didn’t she while also displaying all the nuance of a stranger in a strange land, in this case a German in France. The film would not be at the level it is without the equally brilliant acting of Milo Machado Graner as Daneil, the visually impaired son (a vital aspect of both his character and the audience’s viewpoint) who loves both parents but is asked to make heartbreaking decisions. Whenever I see a performance like this from a child actor, I immediately wonder about the ethics of having a child experience the levels of emotion needed for the role, but I am also reminded (this time by some wonderful radio guests who discussed the film with me) that there are pre-tanatural children actors who can absolutely separate the art from life. Graner delivers a heart-rending performance. Finally, the father is portrayed by Samuel Theis, who is up to the task of matching these other sensational performers.
There are many twists and turns, giving us a roller coaster of emotions. This roller coaster is immediate with a highly effective opening sequence that involves the most creative use of steel drums and 50 Cent music in cinema. The tension is immediate as is the intrigue and beguilement. This is a film that will leave you thinking and seeking out others to talk about it. The ideal film experience for me.
Go see it at Sidewalk Cinema now!
Written by: Gareth Jones
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