Review of Palme d’Or-winning thriller ‘Anatomy of a fall’: Exploring the nuances of love and hatred in marriage • Art de Vivre

Review of Palme d’Or-winning thriller ‘Anatomy of a fall’: Exploring the nuances of love and hatred in marriage

5 minutes to read
Nov 21, 2023

In Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or-winning 'Anatomy of a Fall,' the intricate dynamics of a marriage unfold under the watchful eyes of an entire community. The couple’s son grapples with an unsettling dilemma, torn between the possibility of his mother being a murderer or his father (Samuel Theis) succumbing to suicide. This forms the bizarre and captivating plot, where masterfully crafted dialogues hold the audience captive. As the unreliable narrator navigates the enduring consequences of her partner's fatal fall, the French courtroom thriller gradually unravels the complexities inherent in the intricacies of a marriage.

The marriage under the magnifier

The marriage under the magnifier

The film opens with an interview featuring Sandra (the talented Sandra Hüller), a successful German-born author, conducted at her mountain house by a thesis student. As their conversation delves into the depths of Sandra's writing and she starts to flirt with the interviewer, the instrumental version of 50 Cent’s 'PIMP' abruptly starts reverberating from the second floor, unexpectedly setting the tone for the ensuing two-hour narrative. In a mere five minutes, Sandra's husband will fall from the roof, an incident that propels Sandra into a prolonged criminal court hearing where she finds herself accused of his murder. Filled with suspense and disturbing details of their intricate relationship, the movie centres around the complexities inherent in a relationship, emphasising that relationships can't be neatly confined to two extremes but often find themselves entangled in the nuanced shades of grey.

Review of Palme d’Or-winning thriller ‘Anatomy of a fall’: Exploring the nuances of love and hatred in marriage

The grey area

The film unfolds as a dialogue-centred masterpiece, reminiscent of old-school cinema with its limited sets and extended conversations that delve deep into the recesses of the characters' psyches. Immersed in the movie, the audience feels like intruders into intensely intimate family moments, all the while wrestling with the challenge of empathising with any particular character.

Sandra, portrayed with coldness and distance, possesses the unsettling skills that suggest a capacity to harm her husband. However, beneath this facade lies a tender side, one that cares deeply about her family and is devastated by her husband’s untimely death. As the narrative unfolds, the audience, not privy to all the details surrounding the tragedy, finds itself torn between believing Sandra's side of the story and holding her responsible for her husband's demise. Sympathy intertwines with doubt, and flashbacks gradually reveal that Sandra is not entirely innocent, and the complexities of the marriage aren't solely the result of a narcissistic husband.

The stories and dialogues between the partners contribute to the film's richness, portraying relationships as intricate and far from straightforward. The movie exposes the nuances of love and hatred within the grey area where soulmates may find themselves trapped, unable to rediscover their connection. Beyond the marital dynamics, the film also delves into the artistic tension between the partners, revealing two kindred souls struggling to coexist harmoniously. Both are driven by their individual needs and mired in their own narcissistic tendencies. In their quest to outshine one another and assert superiority, they become submerged in a tumultuous sea of anger, guilt, and violence. 'Anatomy of a Fall' transcends the portrayal of a marriage; it becomes a profound exploration of human relationships and the complex interplay of emotions.

Absurd case of a fall

'Anatomy of a Fall' is an exceptional courtroom drama that manages to dive deep into complex topics in only two hours, leaving the audience with many questions. While unable to take anyone’s side, we dwell on the idea of an unhappy marriage, the tragic case that turned it upside down and showcased its ugly side to the world. One of the biggest questions we ask is “did she actually do it?” Despite the inherent desire to uncover the truth, 'Anatomy of a Fall' purposefully leaves us in the dark, prompting viewers to grapple with their own interpretations of the enigmatic ending.


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Photo Credits: © IMDb

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