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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 8, 2023




‘ANATOMY OF A FALL’ is the French movie that won best film at the Cannes Filmfest last May and it had a special screening at the local French Filmfest.

It is co-written and directed by Justine Triet, acclaimed for “Age of Panic”.

As one watches “Anatomy of a Fall”, one can’t help this feeling of uncertainty: did she or didn’t she? 

Sandra, played by German actress Sandra Huller, is a successful writer who is suspected of killing her own husband, whose corpse is found lying in the snow of their home in wintry Grenoble, France.

The film starts with Sandra being interviewed by a student, Zoe Camille Rutherford, in her home in the Alps.

They are interrupted by the loud music played by Samuel {Samuel Theis}, who is doing carpentry renovations on their home’s third floor attic. 

Sandra tells Zoe it’d be better if they’d just continue with their interview later. 

We then see their 11-year old son, Daniel, well played by Milo Graner, taking their dog Snoop out for a walk in the snowy woods. 

When he returns, he sees his father dead on the snow. He presumably fell from the attic window.

The cops are called and it is noted that Samuel has a head wound that seems to have been inflicted before his body hit the snowy grounds. 

This puts Sandra under suspicion and she has no witnesses to vouch for her innocence, so a case is built to indict her. 

In the courtroom proceedings that follow, the hostile prosecutor brutally invades Sandra's privacy and dissects her most intimate secrets.

It is revealed that she is bisexual and is accused of flirting with the student who’s interviewing her. 

Even the statements of Samuel’s own psychotherapist is utilized against her. 

A passage from one of her books is also used as evidence to personally cast doubt on her. 

Sandra is made to appear as a big impenetrable puzzle and thanks to Sandra Huller’s finely nuanced portrayal, it’s difficult not to be drawn into her plight as she tries to prove her innocence.

The movie’s language is mostly in English, with the French lines having subtitles. 

This is because Sandra is German and Samuel is French and English is their common language of communication. 

Sandra may sometimes appear as manipulative but there is no denial that she truly loves her son, who turns out to have become visually impaired after an accident caused by Samuel, which caused him to feel depressed.

Seemingly minor details are brought into the picture, like a bruise on Sandra’s arm that she claims she got when she bumped into the corner of a table but turned out to have been the result of a previous fight with Samuel. 

Sandra also reveals that Samuel tried to kill himself some months before by overdosing on aspirin.

It’s also a fact that Sandra is more successful in her career than Samuel is in his as an academician who also wants to be a writer. 

Samuel has also recorded their fight where he accused Sandra of stealing his ideas, having illicit affairs after Daniel’s accident and trying to control his life.

All that’s happening has seriously affected Daniel and he agrees to testify in court, but he asks his mom to leave their home for a while. 

Ultimately, Daniel’s testimony has a very significant effect on the outcome of the case against his own mom.

The film shows it's that the investigation is not just about Samuel’s mysterious death but a disturbing psychological excursion into the depths of a couple’s complex and conflicted marital relationship.

The film is just a bit long at about two hours and a half, but the screenplay takes time to build up a good job in uncovering the complex material, layer by layer. 

It’s a splendidly nuanced, detailed character study and an exhaustive portrait of a tumultuous marital relationship. 

There is a very apparent feminist slant in the film that shows how sexist society can be.

People come up with their own speculations and distortions about Sandra that sound misogynistic as things are deliberately turned against her, like her education, her smart career, even her sexuality.

It seems they’ve already concluded that she is guilty, creating a feeling of anxiety in the viewer. 

Huller’s outstanding performance will surely be competing with some of this year’s best actress performances.