Anatomy Of A Fall doesn’t afford us that luxury. Is Sandra guilty? There is no real answer to this. I suspect even the writer-director doesn’t know.

Review Of Anatomy Of  A  Fall: Anatomy Of  A Fall, Brilliant When  It Wants To Be

Anatomy Of A Fall(French)

Starring Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner

Directed by Justine Triet

Rating: *** ½

Anatomy Of A Fall comes with much fanfare. It won the highest honour the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It has also won two Golden Globe awards.

But is it the exemplary crime drama that it aspires to be? Sitting through the snow-capped whodunit, it felt like a film overwhelmingly underloaded with plot and overloaded with dialogue and what I’d call chamber-drama. The characters are either discussing what has happened before or piecing together what could have happened, never do we actually witness the central drama of a wife–a woman and a bisexual– who is accused of murdering her writer husband and even plagiarizing his writing.

The actually storytelling is not half as dramatic as it sounds. A lot of all this is spoken about in the chalet in the Alps where the alleged crime happens, or in the courtroom where we see everyone from the Judge to the accused as way too relaxed,given it is a murder case. This could be on account of the exacerbated emotions and heightened drama we see in the courts of Indian cinema. On the other hand I did feel that the drama in Anatomy Of A Fall felt dehydrated, whittled down to whispers rather than cries.

This is Ingmar Bergman without the emotional intensity. Agreed The Anatomy Of A Fall is an interesting even absorbing reconstruction of a marital tragedy. But it could have been much more . The seeds of a compelling character study are scattered all cross the vivid subtle frames(and cinematographer Simon Beaufils uses the lenses to neither beautify nor judge the characters). The performances are subdued, especially Sandra Huller as the protagonist who grieves for the end of a marriage with such restrain it almost feel like a quiet acceptance of what is, rather than what should have been.

The supporting cast is also well tuned in to the directorial dynamics: talk but don’t give away anything.There is a lovely canine actor too, and the film won the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes film festival(I kid you not). But the main dramatic interaction which should have been between Sandra and her blind young son Daniel(Milo Machado), is deflected to Daniel and a young woman Marge(Jehnny Beth) who is appointed by the court to watch over the boy who is the prime witness in the murder case against his mother.

This is director Justine Triet’s second collaboration with actress Sandra Huller after Sybil. It left me with a wave of mixed feelings. I wanted to know more about the characters’ inner lives. Anatomy Of A Fall doesn’t afford us that luxury. Is Sandra guilty? There is no real answer to this. I suspect even the writer-director doesn’t know.