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Martin Scorsese Masterclass in Cannes

 

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French director Justine Triet walks off with the Golden Palm at the Festival de Cannes!

Anatomy of a Fall (2023) - IMDb

After her films "Victoria" in 2016 at the Critics' Week and "Sibyl" in 2019 in the Official Competition, French director Justine Triet returns to the current 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival with "Anatomy of a Fall and... and walks off with the Palme d'Or!

 

It was in Cannes that Triet first crossed paths with Sandra Hüller in 2016, when the German actress appeared in the much-acclaimed film "Toni Erdmann" directed by German film director Maren Ade. It can be assumed that the French director was impressed by Hüller's performance and later approached her for the embodiment of her new heroine in "Anatomy of a Fall", after having collaborated in two previous films with the French-Belgian actress Virginie Efirat.

 

The talented German actress took center stage at the current edition of Festival de Cannes, Sandra Hüller plays also the main role in the Holocaust drama by British director Jonathan Glazer "The zone of interest", which was rewarded on Saturday, May 27, with the Grand Prix of The jury, and could just as well have merited a Palme d'Or. These two films along with four other films made their mark in the official selection. Aki Kaurismaki's film "Fallen Leaves", the film "Rapito" by Marco Bellocchio, the drama of the Turkish director Ceylan "About dry grasses" in which the performance of the actress Merve Dizdar impressed me, and it seems not only me because at the award ceremony she received the award for the best female performance. Then, last but not least, the Japanese film signed by German Wim Wenders "Perfect days", whose lead actor Koji Yakusho was rewarded at the Festival with the best male performance prize. Impressive his acting, you see all the emotions on his face in the last scene. The great Japanese actor plays a spiritual man, a simple man at peace with his existence who lives in harmony with nature. This film about embracing the serenity in every day was also my personal favorite for the Golden Palm.

 

You might already have guessed that the current edition of the Palme d'Or would be accorded to a woman when Jane Fonda took to the stage of the Palais des Festivals on 27.05 during the awards ceremony to announce the big prize. The legendary actress is a fierce environmental activist and feisty feminist at the remarkable age of 85 --as I had the opportunity of witnessing at her masterclass on 26.05.

 

Fonda commented that all the directors in the competition were men when she first came to the French Riviera in 1963. In the current edition, on the other hand, "..seven women are in the running for Europe's most prestigious film prize - a historic record," she added, "but one day this will be considered normal".

 

Justine Triet when awarded the Palme d'Or said this was her "most intimate film to date...“ --and she was taken by surprise at her success: She did not expect this triumph. Apparently so much surprised that she forgot to take her award diploma with her at the end of the ceremony. Jane Fonda, in her usual informal manner, tossed it nonchalantly after her.

 

Anatomy of a Fall begins by introducing us to Sandra (Sandra Hüller), a dominant, confident and free woman, a famous writer of German origin who has agreed to leave the urban comforts of London to live in the Alps, on the native lands of her French husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis), whose language she speaks poorly. Samuel, a writer himself is not successful. They live in this mountainous area by Grenoble with their 11-year-old son, named Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), who, following a childhood car accident is now nearly blind.

 

While Sandra is chatting with a female journalist, who is obviously attracted to her and Sandra having bisexual tendencies seems to enjoy the moment, loud music can be heard upstairs from her husband's study room, and shortly after the journalist leaves a tragic event occurs...

Samuel's body is found dead outside, at the foot of the house, by son Daniel. Declared by the police to be a suspicious death Sandra is indicted. Was this a suicide or a murder? A year later, the trial takes place with the court trying to clarify the enigma of this fatal fall! Justine Triet delivers a script full of finesse, and the problematic fall that is part of the film's title is not only that of the death presented in the introduction, but also the falling apart of a marriage over a period of time. From here, the process that unfolds during the last third of the film becomes both a fascinating character study and a dissection of the couple's unraveling relationship.

 

"Anatomy of a Fall" places the viewer in the midst of the jury from the beginning. The viewer gradually learns of the the evils that have plagued this marriage for years through testimonies and flashbacks. This being a French trial everyone has a say, creating a gigantic legal puzzle. Triet proves her mastery of setting and editing, confining Sandra Hüller's character to the courtroom, a place where personal intimacies and experiences are exposed in public.

 

This is arguably Justine Triet's best film to date, with a stong script backed up by a strong cast. Young actor Milo Machado Graner was splendid in the key role of the vision impaired boy and also deserved an award. However, the jury did bestow an award on the family canine. The beautiful dog was so expressive, and almost showed emotions and fully deserved the „Palm Dog!

 

Last but not least the star of the film is Sandra Hüller in probably her best role, unfortunately left unrewarded at prize time. The overall result is impressive despite a certain lack of emotions and an intrusive TV movie which during the 2.5 hours of the film gets to be rather distracting and boring. In short, the film is the portrait of a marital breakdown with an impressive cast. But other films also, especially the 5 mentioned at the beginning, might have deserved a Palme d'Or, but at the Festival de Cannes everything depends to a certain extent on luck. And not to forget the world premiere of „Killers of the Flower Moon“ a film by the great Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert de Niro, this film was the favorite of many critics. Ruben Östlund, the last year winner of the Golden Palm with his extraordinary persiflage on our society „The Triangle of Sadness“, who returned to Cannes this year as the president of the jury could not take it into consideration for a Palm d'Or as it was unfortunatelly presented out of competition.

 

„Anatomy of a Fall“ had its world premiere on 21 May 2023 in Cannes. Le Pacte will release it theatrically in France on 23 August 2023.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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