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Acclaimed courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall” gets the Criterion treatment


Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) and her attorney friend Maître Vincent Renzi (Swann Artaud) determine her defense for the death of her husband Samuel Maleski.

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Blu-ray; 2023; R for some language, sexual references, and violent images


Best extra: Interview with French director/co-writer Justine Triet


“ANATOMY OF A FALL” is a sophisticated courtroom drama, but also an extremely perceptive look at a very particular kind of marriage. Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, as well as an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, it received four more Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Justine Triet, who co-wrote the script with her partner Arthur Harari.


The plot focuses on a family living in a remote snowy mountain chalet near Grenoble, France. The husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis) is a French writer. His wife, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), is a German writer. They have a precocious 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who is visually impaired as a result of a head injury sustained in an accident.


When the film opens, Sandra is being interviewed about her new book, while Samuel is insulating the attic and blasting music so loudly, it interferes with the interview. Meanwhile, Daniel takes the family dog, Snoop, out for a long walk in the snow. When he returns, he discovers his father’s bloodied body on the ground in front of the house. And so begins an investigation, and a trial for murder, with Sandra accused of assaulting and then pushing Samuel out the attic window to his death.

(1&2) Right, student Zoé Solidor (Camille Rutherford) tries to interview Sandra about her newest novel, but the noise from Samuels music shortens the interview. (3) Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) takes the family dog, Snoop, out for a long walk in the snow. (4&5) He returns and finds his father died from an apparent fall from the family chalet that hes been remodeling. The medical examiner measures the large gash on Samuels head.


This film is nothing short of mesmerizing, thanks to terrific performances by the entire cast, which also includes Swann Artaud as Sandra’s friend and defense counsel; Antoine Reinartz as the fierce prosecutor; and Jehnny Beth as a young woman hired by the court to observe Daniel in his home. The screenwriting is exceptional, most notably during the trial testimony, as well as in the explosive argument between Sandra and Samuel, which he had recorded, and is used as evidence of motive by the prosecution. 


If you’re looking for an action movie, or have no patience for mature dialogue and realistic character portrayals, “Anatomy of a Fall” is definitely not for you. But if you want to see a film that will make you think, and appreciate great writing and acting, check it out. Even the performance by Messi, the blue-eyed border collie that plays Snoop, is standout. In fact, at Cannes, Messi was awarded the “Palm Dog” for his excellent performance!



As would be expected, “Anatomy of a Fall” looks terrific – even though captured 2.8K digital cameras (1.85:1 aspect ratio) and mastered in 2K. Actors all have natural skin tones; contrast and color saturation are perfect, and fine detail is always sharp. On all platforms disc and digital the film is presented in 1080p with standard dynamic range (SDR) colors and contrast. A slight post-production film grain filter was applied.


The six-channel DTS-HD soundtrack is also very good, with music well-balanced, and spoken words always clear. Subtitles are provided when actors speak French, but English is spoken just as often, and English SDH subtitles are available as well.

(1&2) Maître Vincent Renzi looks up to the attic window that Samuel fell from. (3) Sandra comforts Daniel as he struggles with the death of his father. (4) Maître makes a drawing of Samuels fall. (5) Daniel and his mother play on the piano.



The Criterion Blu-ray includes deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Triet; audition footage of actors Graner and Reinartz; rehearsal footage of Graner and Hüller; a short documentary with animal trainer Laura Martin, about working with Messi; and an illustrated foldout booklet containing a worthwhile essay by critic Alexandra Schwartz.


The interview with Triet is especially enlightening. “Anatomy of a Fall” was her fourth feature film; she began her career making documentaries. She says that she “adores the unpredictability on a movie set.” She knew she wanted to make a courtroom drama, and to show how the French legal system works, as well as to illustrate “the madness of a couple.” The film, she adds, “is about the truth …  but I wanted to cast some doubt … the more we know about this couple, the less we understand the truth.” Triet says she “always wanted to show women having the same desires as men, without wanting to be a man,” and the character of Sandra “says what she thinks and does what she wants.”


Triet recalls the first time she met Hüller, 10 years ago, when the actress presented her with an award for a short film at a festival. Triet says she “loved her beauty and her charm: “When she enters a room, she doesn’t seem to be acting.” The two women worked together on Triet’s film “Sybil.” Triet jokes that she named the character “Sandra” in “Anatomy,” so Hüller wouldn’t be able to refuse the job. Sound effects, music and language are crucial, says Triet, and the idea of characters not understanding each other is often emphasized. Music plays a large role in the film, as when Samuel blasts the song by 50 Cent during Sandra’s interview, and when Daniel practices Chopin on the piano.


Triet says she loves working with animals – and wanted Snoop to provide a “connection between all the members of the family.” She also prefers to work with a combination of professional and non-professional actors. The casting director, Cynthia Arra, also worked as co-director and “took Graner under her wing.” Triet discusses the editing process, during which she worked closely with editor Laurent Sénéchal. “I cried a lot in the editing room,” Triet confesses, having had to cut many beloved scenes for length. She lists some writers whose work has influenced her, such as the playwright/novelist/screenwriter Françoise Sagan, the dramatist Jean-Baptiste Racine, and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze, whom she calls “the father of thought” … who “helped me during the hard times of my life.”


—  Peggy Earle

The Trial

(1&2) The prosecutor (Antoine Reinartz) quizzes Zoé Solidor about the afternoon she tried to interview Sandra. (3) Sandra and her defense team: Maître Nour Boudaoud (Saadia Bentaïeb) and Maître Vincent Renzi. (4) The large courtroom in Saintes, Charlente-Maritime, France. (5) Maître Vincent Renzi questions the testimony of the prosecution witness. (6&7) A flashback argument between Samuel and Sandra. (8&9) Daniel provides a second testimony as the President of the Court (Anne Rotger) listens.

2 comentários

Ken Roche
Ken Roche
11 de jun.

At first I thought this sounded like a Made for TV miniseries from around 20 years back, but I could not recall any outdoor scenes or a dog featuring in that one. So this seems like something interesting I have not seen. There is no mention of any running time and could not find a date for this work - so will need to do some further research but sounds intriguing.

Respondendo a

The film was one of the top rated for 2023 and first released in France last summer.

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