ANATOMY OF A FALL – Review by Leslie Combemale

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Anatomy of a Fall (Anatomy d’une chute) blends the intensity of Hitchcock thriller and some of the most compelling aspects of a family drama, and were it not for being overlong, it would be one of my favorite films of 2023. As it is, Sandra Hüller, as lead character and potentially unreliable narrator Sandra Voyter, is magnetic. She is more than enough to keep the audience interested, and the story on track as it slowly unfolds.

Hüller’s Sandra is a successful German writer, married to less successful writer and professor Vincent (Swann Arlaud). The two live in a remote village, Vincent’s home town in France. They are there with son Daniel, who is blind from a childhood incident, an event that emotionally fractured the family. When Daniel discovers Vincent dead in the snow after falling from a great height, Sandra becomes the prime suspect of murder. During and around the court trial, flashbacks reveal the cracks in their relationship, and how their life might have devolved towards murder or, as Sandra contends, Vincent’s suicide.

Anatomy of a Fall is most fascinating in its representation of how women are demonized by succeeding, asking for what they want, and being uncompromising. Of the lead character, one of her defense lawyers says, “if she is guilty of anything, it’s of succeeding where her husband failed.” In Justine Triet’s fourth outing as director, she and co-screenwriter Arthur Harari create the character of Sandra as neither victim nor hero, but a woman full of faults and weaknesses, just like most people. It’s in the ways that she is perceived in court and by the public, however, that we see just how much her gender plays a factor. It is often used as a weapon against her. With Sandra Hüller, they have the very best actor to bring their protagonist to life and show how Sandra deals with those perceptions. She is absolutely at the top of her game, showing a layered and nuanced performance that makes viewers love her, hate her, or both, then ask themselves why.

4 out of 5 stars

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren on her own website, CinemaSiren.com, and is a frequent contributor to MPA's TheCredits.org, where she interviews filmmakers above and below the line, with a focus on women and diverse voices. She is the Senior Contributor at AWFJ.org. Leslie is in her 9th year as producer and moderator of the influential "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. She is a world-renowned expert on cinema art and her film art gallery, ArtInsights, located near DC, has celebrated cinema art and artists for 30 years.