Over the last year, a family of three consisting of Samuel (Samuel Theis), Sandra (Sandra Hüller), and their vision-impaired son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), have been living in an isolated location in the mountains. The film opens with Sandra attempting to share a conversation with a guest. However, the chat is interrupted as Samuel conducts house repairs on the upper floors, accompanied by loud, disruptive music. Unable to continue the conversation, Sandra’s guest soon leaves, and Daniel decides to take his dog for a walk, leaving only Samuel and Sandra at home.
When Daniel is done with his walk and returns home, he makes a terrible discovery and comes across a dead body outside of his home. When he calls for assistance, his mother, Sandra, finds the body of Samuel lying in the snow, face down and followed by trails of blood as though he’s crawled. As local authorities become involved and begin to investigate, several discrepancies come to light that just don’t make much sense, making Sandra a prime suspect. Now, with Sandra as a prime suspect, her entire life, including her darkest secrets, will be discussed in a trial as the world watches and determines if the death of Samuel was a suicide, an accident, or perhaps a homicide.
Anatomy of a Fall is a heavily dramatic and mysterious crime story. The death of Samuel occurs off-screen, and not understanding the cause of the death is a tremendous driving force of the entire film; I found myself guessing different outcomes multiple times. Another critical force for this film is the stunning level of drama. Being the prime suspect in Samuel’s death turns Sandra’s world upside down for the worse. Sandra no longer has secrets to herself and will be approached countlessly by fierce opposition in the courtroom as they continually try to find a lie in her stories and look for evidence to pin on her. If Sandra is found guilty and locked up, her visually impaired son will also have suffered a significant loss and lack a proper carer.
Performances here are crowd-pleasers. Both characters, Sandra and Daniel, are compelling and convincing on-screen as mother and son. The entire film is engaging and filled with energy, which kept my eyes locked on-screen, especially given the intense level of drama showcased throughout. Scenes that involved a courtroom were significant moments with unforgettable outcomes. If you love murder mysteries with reveals waiting to be told, you might be slightly disappointed. Anatomy of a Fall doesn’t show all its secrets; it focuses more on delivering a gripping drama than unravelling the truth. That being said, I still walked away from this film feeling content, confident and encouraged to repeat viewing in the future.
Overall, this is a murder mystery that took me by surprise. Anatomy of a Fall focuses on the concept of what comes into play when one is accused of murder. The death scene is simple and off-screen, yet highly mysterious and questionable. Throughout the entire film, there are many moments of gripping drama surrounding one major event. The outcomes and finale were not what I expected, and again, it took me by surprise. I found myself lingering on the film’s journey long after the credits. Visually, this film has a great style and set locations, accompanied by a touchingly fitting musical score. The same could be said about the leading performances, which were robust, believable and touching.