film fatales #184: the innocents (anne fontaine, 2016)
music friday: miranda lambert

geezer cinema/film fatales #185: anatomy of a fall (justine triet, 2023)

It's not really accurate to call Anatomy of a Fall a procedural. A good portion of the film takes place in a courtroom, and over the course of the film, we learn more and more about what might have happened. The gradual unveiling is something like an episode of the old Perry Mason show, except the courtroom and the rules of the courtroom are French, and we aren't sure of the defendant's innocence, because while writer/director Justine Triet and co-writer Arthur Harari have made a film reminiscent of past courtroom dramas, the innocence of the nominal heroine isn't guaranteed. Apparently Triet didn't tell Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann), who played the defendant Sandra, if the character was innocent or guilty, only telling her to act innocent.

While there is a mystery to be solved, at its core, Anatomy of a Fall is a family drama. It's not what you'd call a good date movie ... the couple at the center of the story have their problems, and the emotions get quite raw at times. The acting is stellar throughout ... Hüller will get most of the attention, deservedly so, but young Milo Machado-Graner as her son is realistically secretive, and Swann Arlaud is very appealing as her lawyer friend. The intricacies of French courtrooms were puzzling to me, but there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the representation.

There is a fascinating subtext involving language. While almost all of the characters are French (and, obviously, the courtroom proceedings are in French), Sandra is German. She speaks French, but there is a hesitancy when she does. With her husband, and with her attorney, she speaks English ... it seems that when one speaks German and the other speaks French, they meet in the middle and talk English. Giving testimony during the trial, she is required to speak French, but eventually she doesn't feel she can get the meaning of her words across, and she receives permission to speak English. (When she talks to her son, she speaks English to him and he replies in French.)

Anatomy of a Fall is engrossing despite its long length (152 minutes), getting its intensity not from wild action scenes but from interpersonal relationships.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)