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'Anatomy of a Fall,' New York Film Festival 2023
'Anatomy of a Fall,' New York Film Festival (courtesy of the festival)

New York Film Festival Review: ‘Anatomy of a Fall’

The 61st New York Film Festival, now holding its press screenings, will present over 100 films at venues around the city from September 29 through October 15. Making its New York City premiere at NYFF, Anatomy of a Fall is a standout. It won this year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

A Famous Novelist is Accused of Murdering Her Husband

The superb Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann) stars in the trenchant role of a famous novelist accused of killing her husband. Written by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari and directed by Triet, the riveting hybrid of thriller, family drama and courtroom procedural needs a bit of editing down from 150 minutes. For example a flashback argument between husband and wife becomes tedious and rambles in circularity. However, the terrific performances, themes and varied cinematography shine despite this and contribute to the film’s excellence.

Anatomy of a Fall deals with complex questions about the nature of truth and reality in relationships. Complications arise after the prosecutors indict Hüller’s Sandra for her husband’s death. The film dramatically captures a pivotal incident from the perspective of partially blind son Daniel (a heartfelt performance by Milo Machado Graner). Returning from a walk with his dog Snoop (Messi), Daniel comes upon his Dad lying in a pool of blood in the snow. Mother and son cannot explain this mysterious death which devastates them both.

Sandra Hüller in Anatomy of a Fall (courtesy of NYFF press)

Investigators prove that Samuel (Samuel Theis) fell from the attic window of their chalet. Later the prosecution determines Sandra murdered him and had a motive. During the trial the court appoints an aide to prevent Sandra’s undue influence on Daniel. His testimony will become the linchpin in solving the case.

Secrets Disclosed

The trial forces the characters to speak truthfully and look inwardly. The prosecutor (Antoine Reinartz) grills Sandra about her love life, catching her in some lies and playing back a tape recording of a violent argument she had with Samuel the day before his death.

But her lawyer and friend (Swann Arlaud) elicits her responses to explain deeper facts about Samuel, which she had withheld from Daniel. She reinforces the point that fragments of description about a couple’s marriage don’t characterize the feelings between them. And indeed, sometimes couples are unknowable to each other, but they still love one other.

Palme d’Or? Palme Dog!

From scene to scene, including the flashback to the argument between Sandra and Samuel, the mystery is clarified. However, in a shocking scene between Snoop and Daniel, Daniel discovers a final clue to the mysterious death. The canine actor gives such a convincing performance that he elevates Snoop to a character of importance. Indeed, Snoop saves the family in a most unusual way, and in the final scene, he becomes the key comforter of mother and son.

However Triet coaxed and shepherded that dog, she worked a miracle. Messi is so terrific, he received a Palme Dog for his portrayal.

Emotionally gripping, Anatomy of a Fall must be seen for the authentic, spot-on performances and Triet’s intimate camera work. It is screening in the Main Slate section of New York Film Festival 2023. Tickets are available at the Festival website.

About Carole Di Tosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is a published writer, playwright, novelist, poet. She owns and manages three well-established blogs: 'The Fat and the Skinny,' 'All Along the NYC Skyline' ( 'A Christian Apologists' Sonnets.' She also manages the newly established 'Carole Di Tosti's Linchpin,' which is devoted to foreign theater reviews and guest reviews. She contributed articles to Technorati (310) on various trending topics from 2011-2013. To Blogcritics she has contributed 583+ reviews, interviews on films and theater predominately. Carole Di Tosti also has reviewed NYBG exhibits and wine events. She guest writes for 'Theater Pizzazz' and has contributed to 'T2Chronicles,' 'NY Theatre Wire' and other online publications. She covers NYC trending events and writes articles promoting advocacy. She professionally free-lanced for TMR and VERVE for 1 1/2 years. She was a former English Instructor. Her published dissertation is referenced in three books, two by Margo Ely, Ph.D. Her novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Powers' will be on sale in January 2021. Her full length plays, 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics or How Maria Caught Her Vibe' are being submitted for representation and production.

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