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Anatomy of a Fall Movie Review

Updated: May 4


I Google translated a French sentence as a message to Ariane Castellanos the lead in the Canadian French movie Richelieu only to receive an effortless reply in English! This was when I realized I was missing out on global conversations by not learning Spanish or French.


I thought this was significant as Anatomy of a Fall uses linguistic choices as part of the plot with a brilliant performance by Sandra Hüller. Sandra plays a character of the same name who is a German from the UK living with her French husband in the French countryside.


Anatomy of a Fall Movie Poster

That's three international languages spoken fluently by the lead character of the movie. This movie opened me up completely to the prospect of a movie that is from a completely objective perspective and without a definite plot resolution when it ends.


Of course, the first movie that let me explore such an objective narrative was Evil Does Not Exist directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Even when I reached out to one of the leads Ayaka Shibutani she said that the movie is open to translation by the audience (paraphrasing).


World cinema has so much to offer the global cinephile!


The Plot of Anatomy of a Fall


The movie opens with Sandra talking to Zoé Solidor, an academic played by Camille Rutherford interviewing Sandra as a writer. As they talk about Sandra's writing method, you hear loud instrumental music upstairs from where they are.


The song is P.I.M.P covered by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (which is kinda catchy.) In another part of the house, you see Sandra's blind son Daniel played by Milo Machado-Graner, bathing the dog named Snoop.


Sandra and her son Daniel looking at David in The Anatomy of a Fall

The next thing you see is Daniel coming back from a walk with Snoop only to find his father unmoving on the snow. We as the audience see that there's blood around his head where he lays still. Sandra calls the police to inform them what she sees post which the movie kicks into gear.



These first few minutes form the basis of what happens throughout the movie. What follows is the trial of Sandra Voyter over the allegations of her husband's murder.


Sandra Hüller as Sandra Voyter in The Anatomy of a Fall

(I wonder whether Sandra Hüller is drawn to such highly complex roles as she was also a lead character in The Zone of Interest).



Expositional Brilliance


When the movie ended I was still waiting for the Director to point me to the damning piece of evidence, a highly improbable happenstance or even a silly explanation of David's death. But I was left wondering what the hell did I watch? Is there a sequel explaining what happened?


Charlie Day in Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia

But Anatomy of a Fall is not about wrapping up its plot neatly with a bow so that the audience can go home knowing what is what. It is an exercise in detailed, crystal clear, and dense storytelling that showcases how a third party would view the situation dispassionately.

That being said if you are paying close attention to the goings-on in the movie, and after you recover from the feeling of being cheated from a clear ending - you will have a reasonable theory about how David died. Also who or what, killed him?


Your theory of how David died and who or what killed him might even shed light on your cognitive bias.



Cinematography


Beautiful French countryside in The Anatomy of a Fall

There are spectacular shots of the snowy French countryside that frame the story well. Also, scenes in the French courtroom are very well portrayed with the prosecutor at odds with the defense.


A French Courtroom in The Anatomy of a Fall

I also like how the viewpoint of the 10-year-old child Daniel is shown when he is in the courtroom, listening to his family being dissected in public.


Through some of the scenes, they pepper in shots of Daniel learning a piece of music on the piano which adds so much to Anatomy of a Fall. I thought it reflected his state of mind, what was going on in the house, and the plot of the movie in general. Just brilliant expositional ambience.



Should You Watch This? Absolutely!


Anatomy of a Fall is a masterclass in objective storytelling and everyone needs to watch it to learn everything about cinema. An Academy Award-winning movie produced for under US$6.7 million (box office $35 million) is something that is a must-watch.


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