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TIFF 2023 Review: Anatomy of a Fall

When her husband falls to his death at their home in the French Alps, a successful German writer is put on trial for murder.

While Sandra is conducting an interview, her unseen husband Samuel begins to blare music so loud that the session is brought to an early closure; at around the same time their visually impaired son goes for a walk with the family dog and upon returning discovers the lifeless body of his father in the snow.   The best explanation for the death is that Samuel was pushed to his death which makes Sandra the chief suspect, and puts their marriage under the microscope of the court.

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The best performances come from Milo Machado Graner who portrays the son Daniel and the canine member of the cast which both have their star shining moments particularly towards the dramatic conclusion.  That is not to say Sandra Hüller as Sandra is not worthy of attention as everything hinges on her ability to illicit sympathy and this is something she is able to achieve.  Swann Arlaud as Sandra’s friend who leads her legal defence and still has a crush on her is endearing in his quiet, gentle and methodological manner.  Less convincing is Samuel Theis as Samuel as there is a one-note ring to the role.

A nice touch is having the wandering family dog lead the audience into the story and having the interview interrupted by the music as it sets up the discord that exists between the two spouses. The feature film feature feels like a triptych as the narrative shifts from the home life after the death, to the court case and flashbacks where the deceased makes an appearance.  Not completely sure if the narrative approach cohesively jells together but it does add layers of complexity that not only dissects the murder but a relationship imploding because of a tragedy that caused their son to lose his sight and a career success gap that continues to widen.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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