After relocating to the French Alps with her son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) and husband Samuel (Samuel Theis), celebrated German author Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) finds herself at the center of an investigation into the unusual falling death of her husband.

Throughout the film, we slowly learn of the turmoil between the married couple which is subtly teased in the opening as Sandra is being interviewed about her work. What started out as an engaging conversation with laughs and wine, and hints of flirting between the female interviewer and author is interrupted by absurdly loud metal music.

Sandra’s husband chooses to blare his metal music in the attic, clearly not caring about his wife’s interview (or purposefully choosing to sabotage it). The husband has been remodeling the attic with its large window left open to the outside air. It’s through this window that Sandra’s husband takes his tragic fall.

Sandra’s son, Daniel, is the only potential witness to the tragic event but he is visually impaired. Based on the little testimony offered by Daniel and the evidence at the scene, the police investigation leads to an indictment and trial for the fate of author Sandra Voyter.

It’s at this moment that writer and director Justine Triet raises the tension and intrigue even further, delivering a captivating courtroom procedural that unravels layers upon layers of the couple’s complicated life. Triet leaves it to the audience to determine if the husband was merely unhappy and murdered, or if he was suicidal.

Sandra Hüller delivers an astounding performance, both on the stand in court and during the flashbacks to her troubled life with Samuel Theis portraying her husband.

Hüller’s scenes with Milo Machado Graner are rich with layers as well… is this a mother manipulating her son to free herself from the reality of a prison sentence? Or is she only concerned for her child’s well-being?

Graner’s performance as Daniel is incredibly believable and painful to observe. In court, he testifies that his father was preparing him for his ultimate suicide, and that he finally understands this based on a conversation about their dog.

Or at least that’s what Daniel says in court… perhaps to save his mother. The prior conversation with the mother and son took place in their home and ended with Daniel asking his mother to depart through the court appointed guardian.

Hüller’s crying performance in the back seat of the car as she leaves Daniel made me believe that this mother assumed her son would turn her in and deliver new evidence in the case to lean it toward murder.

Anatomy of a Fall is a brilliantly ambiguous autopsy on this complex relationship, with audio recordings of the couple bickering played in court, outside of context as Sandra Voyter claims. One key point of discover is that she may have lifted material from her husband in one of her early works that became her biggest success. The layers of resentment and unhappiness could lead one to believe that murder was indeed enacted at the peak of her frustrations.

The film remains thrilling until the final moment, thanks to the writing, direction, and a rich cast of performers that includes the prosecution and her defense attorney. As we try to decipher the soul of this woman, Anatomy of a Fall resonates as one of the year’s best films and an outstanding piece of storytelling. The script written by director Justine Triet and co-writer Arthur Harari is one of the strongest in years, relying on the bare bones of plotting and dialogue to achieve this masterful result.

Letter Grade: A

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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