"It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle and then removing the pieces": "Anatomy of a fall" review

English Daily #1
ANATOMY OF A FALL (2023) / Yerevan Premieres
Justine Triet
11.7 17:00 Cinema House Grand Hall
13.7 21:00 Moscow Cinema Red Hall

With a thrilling crime-narrative, captivating court scenes, daring cinematic style and haunting performance by Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall was a rousing winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at this years’ Cannes Film Festival. With it, French director Justine Triet has deservedly established herself as a brilliant new film auteur that uses cinema to dive into the ambiguity of human interactions. For it is ambiguity that’s at the heart of Anatomy of a Fall, in which a man is found dead on the icy ground outside of a Swiss chalet. Did he slip and fall? Did he take his own life? Or did his wife push him out of the window?

Moving most of the action to the Swiss court, where the defense of the widow has to establish reasonable doubt, Triet uses the legal procedure to examine the pained relationship between husband and wife, besides the moral responsibilities of their blind son who realizes he might have a part to play in establishing the guilt or innocence of his mother. “What interested me most besides guilt and innocence,” explains Triet at the festival of Cannes, days prior to her historic win, “was actually working on the couple: fleshing out the story of how they lived together. For me, it’s not so much a thriller, but more an examination of what we give and what we owe each other. The conflict that is at the heart of their relationship is the source of all the drama that follows.”

What makes Anatomy of a Fall so fascinating is the way in which it interrogates this relationship. The court is bound to facts and requires a burden of proof, while relationships often rely on things that are solely felt and assumed, and are left unspoken in many cases. So Anatomy of a Fall becomes a film in which Triet tries to capture what can’t be filmed. It results in a fascinating interplay between what you can and can’t see and what you can and can’t hear, allowing for an almost radical film form within what seems like a conventional narrative. This was always what interested Triet: “working on a film about the lack of images. It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle and then removing more and more pieces. It’s about the idea that you don’t have a truth at the center of the story and that you have to fill the gap with hypotheses. It reflects the characters in the film that have a lack of certainty and a lack of knowledge.”

Hugo Emmerzael