Between drama and procedural thriller, Anatomie d’un chute marks the return to competition at the Cannes Film Festival by Justine Triet who relies on the German Sandra Hüller in the story of a suspicious death within a family in the French Alps. Mauro Donzelli’s review.
A matter of couple. Behind the thriller dynamics and procedural drama structure, the French Justine Triet made with Anatomy from a fall his personal investigation into life within the intimacy of a family nucleusbetween the conjugal love of a couple and the ancestral love for a child. One of the exponents of the new wave of French cinema born at the turn of the 80s, Triet starts in her story from a triggering event that upsets the initial stillness of a life in the snowy Alps, in a wooden chalet in the French mountains. A fall, as the title tells us, which causes a long wave that brings to the surface misunderstandings and complexities in the love life of two writers. The problem is that one of the two Samuelis the protagonist in absentia, in an absence that turns into a continuous recollection by others, since it is he who falls, and dies with a head wound, at the beginning of the film.
At home there was only his partner, Sandrawhile the 11-year-old son, Daniel, blind after an accident years earlier, is not far away around the snowy woods with his faithful dog. Perhaps the only member of the family capable of combining love with a constant useful function for his daily life. A guide dog, the film will later show, capable of being a guide dog also for the investigation, and subsequently the trial, which will soon direct suspicions precisely towards Sandra, as she is the only possible culprit. Assuming it was a fall with help, a homicide, since scientific analyzes – once the accidental fall has been excluded – seem to lead to a conclusion that sounds like a doubt: suicide or pushed after a strong blow with a deadly object?
For once, Justine Triet he abandons the irony and disenchantment of his early works to face the personal relationships between two creators of stories with solemn gravity. She already has several quite successful novels to her credit, while he has devoted himself above all to teaching and would like to finally find his space – after having given a lot to his partner – and write a book about her. Finally. To do so, he convinces her to leave London, where they met and fell in love with her, to return to the mountain village where she comes from. If the artistic creation of a director and an actress, grappling with the increasingly complicit observation of a psychotherapist, were at the center of the almost police investigation of SybilTriet’s previous but lame film presented in competition at Cannes, in Anatomy of a fall it is the writer – another profession suspended between creation and re-proposition of reality, between invention and manipulation – who intrigues.
Not only that, we always find ourselves with an alien protagonist who appears in a context that is not his. Self Virginie Efira she was a psychotherapist with a passion for writing who is on a film set, here it is Sandra Hueller to play a German woman in France. The use of a lingua franca like English is for the son a nuisance agent in his constantly French-speaking daily life, while it represents the confirmation of Sandra’s status as a stateless person in exile, reluctant to rely on French. One of the elements of embarrassment and discomfort that emerge during the autopsy dissection within the couple is represented by the process.
Triet constructs an aseptic yet fascinating film, in which the intimate suddenly becomes public knowledge during the process, without even the thin veil of transparency represented by the literary fiction of a personal and autobiographical story. As in Victoria, a free woman is staged and highlighted, and as such capable of causing an imbalance in the “normal” legal relationships of public opinion who attends a trial. It doesn’t have to be nice, Sandra, and it isn’t, showing in filigree the fragility and fears, but also the pride and the vindication of a life pursuing personal and professional satisfaction, if not happiness. Without the renunciation for the other half of the couple turning into regret when it’s too late.