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Fall lands on its feet

          Movies turn trials into courtroom battlegrounds, which intensifies the intrigue for

, a prize-winning feature from writer-director Justine Triet. She joins Arthur Harari in writing a script that explores the undefinable in marital relationships, providing a distinct and standout role for Sandra Hüller as a successful writer accused of pushing her husband to his death.  Hüller captures the nuance of her character perfectly from the moment she takes a sip of wine in the film’s opening scenes, through a detached mask she hides behind before leading to a release of her character’s real and pent-up emotions. Director Triet shoots scenes with precision, those opening shots coming to play throughout the story with added significance and momentum.  Such exactness follows the essentials of a mystery since the plot asks the question, “Did she do it?” No spoiler provided here, nor is the precise answer mandatory since the heart of the piece involves an exploration of how people love, live, but sometimes fall…apart, that is, literally and figuratively. Those insights stand out in the movie, aided not just by Hüller’s embodiment of a troubled woman, but across the board in other performances. Playing the victim’s 11-year old blind son, Milo Michado Graner captures the conflict of a boy who wants to know and hide the truth. Meanwhile, Antoine Reinartz proves so effective as a single minded prosecuting attorney that I felt like punching him. His courtroom scenes and the whole French police investigation process proved distracting to a United States citizen like me, accustomed to television and movie procedurals where different rules apply—the whole case struck me as circumstantial rather than prosecutable, but that fits in with an underlying point the writers make: the system treats women differently from men. Somewhere in all that mix may lie the truth, a search worth exploring by watching Anatomy of a Fall.

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