Film Review: Anatomie d’une Chute (Anatomy of a Fall)

ANATOMIE D’UNE CHUTE (France 2023) ***** Top 10

(The Anatomy of a Fall)

Directed by Justine Triet


The film that both received great applause during the screening at Cannes and the coveted Palme d’Or (Best Film) is a taut courtroom drama and thriller that keeps one glued to the screen from start to end.  

Great performances from all especially the lead, Sandra Huller and including the dog that vomits and has its eyes rolled and whitened.  

Sandra (Sandra Hüller) is a successful German writer who lives in the French Alps with her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) and their visually impaired son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner).  The son had suffered a visual loss due to a car accident that the father blamed himself for.  A brilliant, decibel-bursting opening scene suggests tensions in their isolated chalet, so when Samuel is discovered dead in the snow beneath one of their windows, suspicion is quickly aroused.  Did Samuel take his own life, or was he pushed to his death?  When the police investigation proves to be inconclusive — its varying angles hinting at the microscopic examination to come — Sandra is ultimately indicted and put on trial.  

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Film Review: Astrakan

ASTRAKAN (France 2022) ***

Directed by David Depesseville


ASTRAKAN opens with a shot of a boy looking at the cage of a tarantula in a zoo.  The similarities of the loneliness that exists between both the boy and the spider become apparent.  The boy is then rushed into the car with the other two children as they go to the farm of the mother’s family, greeted by her brother.

The relationship between the boy and the foster family, his emotions, and how all are affected are slowly revealed in director David Depesseville’s debut feature.  This is a coming-of-age story of Samuel, an unloved and lonely, orphaned boy who ends up learning life lessons the hard way.

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Toronto International Film Festival 2023 French Capsule Reviews

Avant que les flammes ne s’éteignent (AFTER THE FIRE) (France 2023) ***
Directed by Mehdi Fikri


Injustice against minorities is often favourite fodder for French films, (BATIMENT 5 (LES INDESIRABLES) and LES MISERABLES by Ladj Ly being prime examples.  In an immigrant French suburb of Strasbourg. Karim, a 25-year-old man, has died at the hands of the police. Devastated by the news, his estranged sister Malika (Camélia Jordana) reunites with her family, compelled to seek justice for her slain brother.  The police claim the death is due to an epileptic fit due to drug taking.  Strategizing with mentorly community organizer Slim (Samir Guesmi) and suave private lawyer Mr. Harchi (Makita Samba), Malika soon begins to face a courtroom battle with overwhelming media exposure, while contending with the growing chaos of her hectic everyday — missed daycare meetings, a failing business, and a strained marriage. But she and her siblings Driss (passionately played by rapper Sofiane Zermani, a.k.a. Fianso) and Nour (Sonia Faidi) are anchored by their renewed blood ties. Together they harness the fire of public outrage against a racist criminal justice system.  Director Fikri shows some sympathy for the authorities with the pathologist and the guarding police officer allowing Malika total photos of the bruises from the beatings of the dead brother’s corpse while also showing the judicial process and the court case preparations.  The sight of the bruised body also gets the emotions of the audience going.

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Film Review: Passages

PASSAGES (France/Italy 2022) ***½

Directed by Ira Sachs


The film PASSAGES explores the explosive love triangle between an established male couple, Tomas and Martin, and Agathe, a woman who enters their lives in modern-day Paris. The couple also own a home in the French countryside. Agathe is a girl whom film director Tomas meets in a bar, right after wrapping up his latest feature, also titled Passages.

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