© 2024 91.9 KVCR

KVCR is a service of the San Bernardino Community College District.

San Bernardino Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

701 S Mt Vernon Avenue, San Bernardino CA 92410
909-384-4444
Where you learn something new every day.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

There is no excuse to let 'Anatomy of a Fall' fall through the cracks

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The courtroom drama "Anatomy Of A Fall," about a woman accused of her husband's murder, won this year's top award at the Cannes Film Festival. France is entering a different film for the Oscars' best international feature, but our critic Bob Mondello says that is no excuse to let "Anatomy Of A Fall" fall through the cracks.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: High in the French Alps, Sandra, a novelist, is being interviewed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) You say your books always mix truth and fiction, and that makes us want to figure out which is which.

MONDELLO: When Sandra's husband Samuel, a less successful novelist, starts blasting music upstairs, the song's on a loop. Sensory overload for Danny, their almost blind 11-year-old son, who grabs the dog's leash and heads out for a walk. Though the journalist tries to keep the interview going...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I have many, many questions.

MONDELLO: ...She soon gives up, leaving Sandra on her own as the music keeps throbbing. It's still throbbing when Danny comes back from the walk to find his dad lying in a pool of blood in the snow.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

MILO MACHADO GRANER: (As Daniel) Mother. Mother.

MONDELLO: Did he fall, or was he pushed? That is the question. And to Sandra's growing concern, no one's taking the fall side of the equation very seriously, including her own lawyer, who wonders whether Samuel had been depressed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

SWANN ARLAUD: (As Maitre Vincent Renzi) It's probably our best defense. I mean, if they indict you, it's our only defense.

SANDRA HULLER: (As Sandra Voyter) But I think he fell.

ARLAUD: (As Maitre Vincent Renzi) Yeah, but nobody's going to believe that. I don't believe that.

MONDELLO: Director Justine Triet parcels out the revelations slowly. Sandra is so guarded, as played by Sandra Huller, that it's hard to read her, even when she's being interrogated in court by a smirking, insinuating prosecutor...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

ANTOINE REINARTZ: (As Avocat General, speaking French).

MONDELLO: ...Who has a recording of the couple arguing shortly before Samuel died.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

HULLER: (As Sandra Voyter) He recorded conversations, Daniel's piano lessons, and sometimes just himself - talking to himself. And I think he did that because he wanted to gather material to help him start writing again. Now, with hindsight, it seems possible that he could have provoked this fight just to record it.

MONDELLO: The filmmaker allows these details to emerge in the courtroom in full view, as it were, of Danny, who will be the witness on whose testimony the trial will turn. Danny's learning a lot about his parents at a tender age - about the blame and guilt surrounding the accident that left him blind, about their dueling careers as writers, about an affair with a court-appointed guardian living in the house. Sandra is distressed about not being able to comfort her son, though she finds nonverbal ways, when, say, he's taking his stress out on their piano and she sits beside him to gently lead him to Chopin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONDELLO: What's on trial, it sometimes seems, isn't so much the death of a man as the death of a marriage. Also, the strength of a filmmaker - Triet gets a sharp, enigmatic performance from Huller, who leaps from French to English, searching for words to match the thoughts so evidently flashing in her eyes. And also from preteen, Milo Machado Graner, on whose shoulders rest much of the suspense concerning what the court will say about Sandra's guilt or innocence. In a film this nuanced, that's not a question that can be easily answered with a verdict, however thoughtfully arrived at. In fact, it's a question likely enough to pursue you out of the theater that you may want to see "Anatomy Of A Fall" with someone who enjoys a good debate. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF BENOIT DANIEL'S "VARIATION AUTOUR D'UN PRELUDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.