Film: Anatomy of a Fall

Anatomy of a Fall (2023) will likely be a tough sell for many viewers: a lengthy, multilingual courtroom drama that makes an unsettling theme of its very ambiguity. But there are reasons this one garnered so much critical acclaim, chief among them the exquisite lead performance of Sandra Hüller. She stars as Sandra Voyter, who lives in the French Alps with her husband Samuel (Samuel Theiss) and young son Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner). Samuel’s tragic death by a fall from their mountain chalet leads to an investigation and, ultimately, Sandra on trial for murder. She maintains her innocence, but there’s so much circumstantial evidence that even her old friend and defense attorney Vincent (Swann Arlaud) has his doubts. Everyone involved has a motive to support her innocence or prove her guilt, and arguments on both sides seem equally credible. But what is really the truth?

First and foremost, Anatomy of a Fall is gorgeously shot and brilliantly acted, immediately evident strengths that sustain the film through its murky, patient set-up. Eventually, though, it evolves into first-rate courtroom drama that takes those early, foundational scenes and layers in contextual nuance that increasingly complicates the legal case, the family dynamics, and the mystery. Hüller’s understated performance—in three different languages—is subtly riveting throughout, her cagey steadiness occasionally punctuated by convincing, explosive moments of emotion. The young Machado-Graner also deserves a call-out for his challenging turn as a visually impaired child caught in a situation of impossible psychological turmoil. Arlaud, Theiss, Jehnny Beth, and Antoine Reinertz (as the rather ruthless prosecutor) are also superb. In the end, what initially appears to be conventional drama builds into a richer, more thought-provoking tableau—and one that knows just how much of the truth to put on screen to hint at unknowable possibilities just beyond reach.

Scroll to Top