A stunning, naturalistic crime drama, Anatomy of a Fall is unquestionably one of the films of the year.
It concerns the trial of German-born writer Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller)
and events leading up to it.
With her husband Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis) and son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), Voyter moved to a remote mountain chalet in the French Alps.
Their now 11-year-old son is visually impaired, the result of an accident when he was four.
After going for a walk in the snow with their dog Snoop, Daniel returns home to discover his father’s bloodied body lying at the foot of the chalet.
Did he commit suicide or was he murdered?
Maleski was a teacher and wannabe author who had a conflicted relationship with his wife.
Much of that dated back to the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s accident.
Anatomy of a Fall peels back the layers of the family dynamic and reveals the characteristics of each of the central players.
I speak of driven Sandra, hamstrung Samuel and sensitive Daniel.
Also in play here are the lawyers and witnesses.
The film turns into a tightly wound thriller, in which the truth proves illusive.
It has been brilliantly written and executed, with revelations and tension at every turn.
It is the work of director Justine Triet and Arthur Harari, who have an excellent handle on the material.
Nor could I be any more praiseworthy of the performances, led superbly by Sandra Hüller in one of the performances of her life.
I totally believed she was the intelligent, self-absorbed character she was playing.
I can say the same about Milo Machado Graner as the piano playing youngster in an invidious situation he is trying to understand and make sense of.
Although frequently referenced, Samuel Theis only comes into his own late in the piece, in a stunning scene in which Samuel argues with Sandra.
Choice words are exchanged in one of many highlights in the movie.
Playing a pivotal role in proceedings is Sandra’s key legal counsel, old friend Maitre Vincent Renzi (Swann Arlaud).
Arlaud is mighty impressive in his characterisation, with Renzi coming across as warm, responsible, thorough and inquisitive.
And then you have the prosecution in the form of the devious and flamboyant Advocate General, as portrayed with flair by Antoine Reinartz.
You mightn’t like the character he assumes, but you can still admire his tactics.
My plaudits don’t stop there, as the secondary players also ensure that everything about the film feels real.
There is so much to unpack, appreciate and savour in what is an unsettling psychological journey.
Anatomy of a Fall is a film not to be missed.
Rated MA, it scores a 9 out of 10.