The French have made a mistake. Like when we sent ‘Mondays in the Sun’ above ‘Talk to Her’, and in the US they ignored León de Aranoa but ended up nominating (and awarding) Almodóvar, this year France decided not to send ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ but ‘A slow fire’. In the US they are not very fond of Rosana and they passed on that movie, but they were very impressed by ‘Anatomy of a Fall’, and she has ended up nominated for FIVE Oscars (film, direction, screenplay, actress and editing).
Why did France do that? Evil tongues say that it comes from what happened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. There, ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ was presented, which tells the story of Sandra Voyter, a woman who finds herself identified as a suspect after an accidental death? of her husband, and which has in the cast the excellent Sandra Hüller, but also the good work of Samuel Theis, the boy Milo Machado (tremendous), Swann Arlaud and Jehnny Beth (yes, the leader of Savages). And with her dog, of course. Because the dog took the Palm Dog (yes, it exists), in something that complements the great triumph of the film in this edition: it took the coveted Palme d’Or. And where is the problem here?
To summarize: demonstrations and riots were organized in several areas of Cannes to protest the increase in the retirement age to 64, and both directors and actors chose not to get involved and not mention anything about the protests during the Festival. Many times we swallow neoliberal policies out of fear of the far-right alternative (remember the strength of Le Pen in France), and this could also have been the case with Justine Triet. But not. In her winning speech, the director spoke of Macron’s repression against these protests, and criticized the cuts and “neoliberal measures” of the French government, which she accused of “commercializing culture” and destroying France’s “cultural exception.” . There it is nothing. The Minister of Culture and several of Macron’s deputies got involved and, coincidence or not, the film was not chosen for the Oscars, despite the international critical and public success it was having.
And the Oscar thing is just the most popular thing. In addition to this and the already mentioned Palma, ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ comes from being nominated for 7 BAFTAs, winning two Golden Globes (best script and best foreign film) and winning the four main EFA awards (film , director, script and actress). The actress award is curious, because Sandra Hüller became the first actress to be nominated for the EFA for two films at the same time: she went with this one and with ‘The Zone of Interest’, and finally she won for the film What are we talking about. And no wonder: one of the pillars of ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ is Hüller’s impressive performance. She already conquered us in ‘Toni Erdmann’, but here she is even better, achieving a very difficult combination: being icy and at the same time magnetic. It has even more merit to pass scrutiny when we talk about a role in which the viewer will be overanalyzing any gesture, because – a priori – that is what the movie is about, whether she is guilty or not.
As you can imagine: no, it’s not about that. Justine Triet commented that she wanted to address the legal issue with all its details, but above all, relationships and cohabitation, that the legal issue was an excuse to “dissect every aspect of their lives.” Making a nod to ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ with the title and with the fall being the cause of death makes even more sense if you think that the “fall” that Justine Triet is doing an autopsy on is the fall of this couple . Or even the moral fall of this protagonist. Triet comes from the hilarious ‘Sybil’s Reflection’ (highly recommended if you haven’t seen it), and ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ is a tremendous change in tone. Some of the humor continues, for example in those zooms, but the film goes in other directions, delighting lovers of trial cinema… without really being part of that “trial cinema.”
Because, as we say, the script (written between her and Arthur Harari) uses the mystery of whether she did it or not as a mcguffin. We are not facing a judicial drama per se, Sandra is not an innocent person (or is she?) with whom we want justice to be done, nor a guilty person (or is she?) who we want to be saved. She is not interested in what the truth is, but rather in what the truth is. The truth depends on the interpretation we give to the story, the image we have of its protagonist, and our own prejudices and experiences, and that is the most stimulating thing about ‘Anatomy of a Fall’. As it is said at one point in the film, “sometimes when we don’t know if something is true or not, what we have to do is decide what the truth is for us.”
Triet plays with the truth throughout the film and, in fact, refused to answer Huller herself when she asked him over and over again during filming whether his character was guilty or not. “The Truth”, as a concept, flies over the entire film. Like the often false “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” in court, or like the Fangoria song. “The truth, what does it matter, who has it and where is it” is what Triet (and González Sinde) could sing presenting this story to us. What does the truth matter, of course, when you get a great movie?