Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


TIFF 2023 Review: Anatomy of a Fall – “Compelling”

Sandra Hüller in ANATOMY OF A FALL. Courtesy of TIFF

Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall marks the second film I’ve seen at the Toronto International Film Festival that has similar themes of proof versus assumption and what the truth actually means.  The other is The Teacher’s Lounge, Germany’s submission for the 2024 Academy Awards.  Both are excellent films, though Anatomy of Fall is perhaps more complex, delving into a problematic marriage, childhood trauma and a main character whose job as an author literally leaves her mixing truth and fiction.  

In a powerhouse performance, Sandra Hüller (also at the festival with The Zone of Interest – just sign her up for an Oscar already) plays Sandra Voyter, a German author who two years ago moved to France with her husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis) and son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner).  Samuel always has projects on the go, and that includes renovating their mountain chalet, so it’s not unusual when he starts to play an instrumental version of 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P on loud repeat while he works on insulating the attic.  

Check out all of our TIFF coverage
Sandra is napping in the bedroom and Daniel, who is visually impaired, is just coming back from a walk with his dog, Snoop, when he discovers his father’s body motionless on the ground underneath the balconies and attic window.  But, the coroner can’t rule out foul play, and so an investigation into Samuel’s death begins, trying to piece together the happenings of that afternoon, in the process uncovering other truths about this family (even Snoop the dog!).

Director Justine Triet, who co-wrote with Arthur Harari, achieves immediate interest and intrigue with Anatomy of a Fall, wasting no time starting the investigation.  But that intrigue follows into the courtroom too, where, surprisingly, humour also balances out some of the longer scenes.  Some of the courtroom drama drags a bit through the latter third, but is nevertheless consistent, with Triet largely earning the film’s 151 minute run time.  

Triet follows her subjects closely, but shoots interestingly from different perspectives, whether that’s Daniel, Sandra, an audience member in the courtroom or, yes, even Snoop.  Each individual is important, and each perspective has a different impact on how events are viewed.  It all seems to blend seamlessly and with calculated effect, for Anatomy of a Fall rarely, if ever, drops its grip on the audience. 

Triet has worked before with Hüller in 2019’s Sybil, and while the prolific actor has turned out some excellent performances this pairing seems to be a match made in heaven.  There’s a particularly moving scene where Sandra is running through all her emotions in the back of a car (she notes as tears fall that they say money can’t buy you happiness, but also it’s better to cry in a car than the subway) and the camera just lets her go through the stages of release.  It’s stunning work, truly.

Anatomy of a Fall falters in only two ways – in a truly concerning scene involving Snoop (in my day job I work with animals so this may have bothered me more than most), and in its somewhat anticlimactic conclusion.  While from an artistic perspective, I can understand the way it ended, as an audience member it just felt somewhat unfulfilling.  I would have happily tacked on more time for this feeling of satisfaction to happen, even over the two and a half-hours already spent with these characters.  That’s just how compelling Anatomy of a Fall truly is, as we dissect more about the living, than we discover about the dead.    

Anatomy of a Fall had its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival September 7th, 2023.  For more information head to


For those sensitive to scenes involving animals, a dog is intentionally poisoned and appears very ill in this film (he survives and is okay, but it is no less disturbing).

Previous PostNext Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.