Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

Anatomie d'une chute

Film and Plot Synopsis

In the snowy French mountains, a parttime teacher and novelist, Samuel Maleski, dies mysteriously outside of his home. The suspicious death causes authorities to investigate which results in an indictment of Samuel’s novelist wife, Sandra Voyter, for murder. Over the course of the trial, the couple’s marriage is placed on full display for the world while Samuel and Sandra’s visually impaired son is forced to listen and to decide what is the what is emotion, what is fiction, and what is the truth.

‘Anatomy of a Fall’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Anatomy of a Fall (2023) German novelist Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller), her teacher husband Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis), and their visually impaired son Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner) live together in an isolated mountain chalet near Grenoble, France. Sandra is being interviewed by a female college student, but the interview is constantly interrupted by Samuel playing 50-Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” at a loud volume from a room in the attic. Sandra asks to reschedule the interview for another day. Daniel takes a long walk through the woods with his guide dog Snoop just prior to the interviewer leaving. Upon his return, Daniel finds his father lying dead outside of the chalet below the attic window.

An investigation is begun by law enforcement. Sandra consults with an old friend, lawyer Vincent Renzi (Swann Arlaud), to ascertain his assessment of the accident. Sandra asserts that the fall from the attic must have been accidental; however, Vincent informs her that the court will not believe her claim. Sandra confesses that Samuel purposely overdosed on aspirin six months earlier after discontinuing his antidepressant medication, a fact that she neglected to inform the investigators of. Vincent also notes a bruise on Sandra’s arm which she tells him resulted from bumping into a countertop.

When questioned, Daniel tells the police that his parents were having a calm talk when he left the house but gives conflicting accounts of exactly where he was standing. The police investigation also turns up a mysterious blood spatter pattern and a head wound on Samuel that the medical examiner concludes occurred before Samuel hit the ground. When an audio recording Samuel made of a fight he and Sandra had the day before he died is discovered, the authorities seek and obtain an indictment against Sandra for the death of her husband.

During the trial, Sandra’s defense team continues to contend that Samuel fell from the attic window and hit his head on a shed before finally hitting the ground. However, the prosecution (Antoine Reinartz) pushes a theory that Sandra hit Samuel with a blunt object and pushed him from the third-floor balcony. During a courtroom argument with Samuel’s psychiatrist, Sandra admits to resenting her husband for his responsibility for the accident that led to Daniel’s impaired vision.

Somebody said, of course money doesn’t make you happy, but it’s still better to cry in a car than in a subway. Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller)

In the trial, the recorded fight is played. In the recording, Samuel accuses Sandra of plagiarism and infidelity. He also expresses frustration over his feelings that Sandra has exerted control over his life by not allowing him time to continue his own writing after Daniel’s accident. Sandra accuses her husband of being a prisoner of his own choices and shows little sympathy for Samuel’s plight. In the recording, the argument eventually turns physical, but it is unclear who escalated the encounter. The prosecution contends that Sandra was the aggressor. However, Sandra confesses to throwing a glass against the wall and slapping Samuel in the face, but states that the bruises on her arms were due to Samuel violently grabbing her. She also contends that the rest of the violence heard on the recording was Samuel beating himself up.

During the trial, Sandra admits to having had an affair with a woman the year before Samuel’s death. Sandra contends that Samuel was aware of the affair. The prosecution argues that Samuel’s playing of the loud music was indications of his jealousy towards Sandra’s alleged flirting with the young college interviewer on the day of his death. The prosecution further contends that an argument broke out between the married couple over this which ultimately turned physical and ended with Sandra killing Samuel. The prosecution also further asserts that Sandra has a pattern of writing personal conflicts into her novels and how murdering Samuel could mirror a minor character’s thoughts from her most recent novel.

In the trial, Sandra objects that the recording does not properly reflect the entirety of her marriage to Samuel, and that the words spoken or thought by one of the characters in her book do not express her own inclinations. Sandra also testifies about Samuel’s aspirin overdose, an incident that is not documented by anyone else’s account. Present throughout the trial, Daniel requests to testify a second time before closing arguments the following Monday. Concerned about witness tampering, the judge orders strict ground rules to prevent anyone from influencing Daniel’s testimony, including appointing a court monitor, Marge (Jehnny Beth), to supervise Sandra’s interactions with her son.

Over the weekend, Daniel asks Sandra to leave their house for the weekend so he can be alone with Marge and Snoop. Daniel recalls an incident several months before where Snoop became very sick for an unknown reason. Daniel conducts an experiment where he deliberately feeds Snoop aspirin and notes that it had the same effect. Daniel realizes that his mother is telling the truth about his father’s thinly veiled suicide attempt. Daniel finds himself torn over what is the truth and confides his anguish in Marge. Marge tells Daniel that sometimes when we do not know what is really true, we can instead just decide what’s true for us.

The following Monday, Daniel retakes the witness stand and testifies that if his mother did this, he cannot understand it, but if his father did it, he can. Danial also shares that when he and his father were driving Snoop to the veterinarian, his father spoke to him about the need to be prepared for the people that we love to die and to know that Daniel’s life will go on. In the context of the information presented at trial and his own experiment, Daniel interprets his father’s words as indications of his own suicidal thoughts.

Not long after, Sandra is acquitted of all charges. That evening, Sandra celebrates in town with her attorneys indicating a reluctance to return home. When she does return home, Daniel confesses to her that he was afraid of her returning home. Sandra expresses that she too was afraid to come home and the two embrace. Sandra places Daniel to bed and lingers on a photo of her and Samuel before falling asleep herself with Snoop.

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Our Rating

Le Pacte released Anatomy of a Fall on August 23, 2023. Justine Triet directed the film starring Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, and Milo Machado-Graner.

User Rating: 3.03 ( 3 votes)
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