HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Anatomy of a Fall is a French film starring Sandra Hüller and directed by Justine Triet. It is the story of a husband who is found dead underneath a three-story attic, and the wife (Hüller) becomes the prime suspect in the death. After consultation with her lawyer (Swann Arlaud), they determine that her best defense is to argue that this husband and father committed suicide.
Over the course of the courtroom drama, similar to the best dramatic tension of a true crime podcast, the film perfectly balances the potential murder mystery with family drama. The case is constructed in such a way that the film becomes a study in ambiguity and how we judge other human beings. Similar to the real Amanda Knox case, in which her behavior defied expectations, we are invited to judge Hüller’s character with only scant pieces of information.
At the point in the film when the verdict is about to be announced, I would have voted to acquit and spent the rest of my life thinking that she was guilty. That is the degree of ambiguity in this film. And on the way home, I had to examine what caused me to feel so strongly about both convictions.
The performances are all top-notch, and the screenplay by Triet and Arthur Harari is one of the best of the year. It is a magic trick that we fully understand the dead man’s character – his hopes, failings, all the dimensions that make him a person – with almost no screen time.
It is easy to reduce Anatomy of a Fall to a simple “did she or didn’t she” question, and it’s natural to do so. But there is so much more depth to the characters, the moral questions of judgment and guilt and innocence, and the associated gender dynamics at play. Anatomy of a Fall tackles all these questions ably and with great sophistication.
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