Anatomy of a Fall

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Synopsis

The closer we look, the less we know in Justine Triet’s masterful Palme d’Or–winning Anatomy of a Fall, an eerily riveting courtroom thriller that examines the line where truth becomes fiction and fiction becomes truth. When Sandra Voyter (a transfixing Sandra Hüller), a writer who turns the material of her life into autofiction, is put on trial for the suspicious death by defenestration—or was it suicide?—of her husband, it opens up an inquiry that will turn a troubled home inside out. Tapping into the minimalist intensity of a chamber drama—and using intricate, elliptical editing—Triet constructs a mystery that is ultimately less about a death than about the hidden lives we lead.

Picture 9/10

Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall makes its North American debut on Blu-ray through The Criterion Collection, presented on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The master, provided to Criterion by Neon, has been given a meticulous treatment.

Shot digitally and finished in 2K, the 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation looks excellent, offering a clean and precise rendering of the original digital source. Overall, it appears very clean, with exceptional detail. Digital artifacts are not a notable issue in motion, even in the darker sequences, and highlights remain sharp and clear. Some shots in the film, intentionally taken from lower quality consumer-grade cameras, display obvious macroblocking and aliasing artifacts, but this is by design.

Colors appear accurate, and the black levels are fairly rich, with clean blending in the shadows. Overall, the presentation is quite sharp and impressive.

Audio 8/10

More along the lines of a courtroom drama, the film doesn’t heavily rely on a surround sound mix, yet it still features some impressive audio moments. A standout sequence early in the film features a cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” blasting throughout a chalet. This scene is loud and utilizes all channels to immerse you in the setting, with a fairly aggressive—yet noninvasive—bass backing it up.

The rest of the film is primarily dialogue-driven and centralized to the front speakers, with ambient noise subtly filling in the background. The audio quality is excellent and makes effective use of the soundfield when needed.

Extras 6/10

As a newer film, I wasn’t expecting an abundance of extras beyond the usual fare (deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, etc.), but there is a decent set of material here. The highlight is an exclusive new interview with director Justine Triet. While there aren’t any major surprises, I enjoyed her insights into her aims with the film as an atypical courtroom drama and her experiences working with the cast, including child actor Milo Machado-Graner and Messi, the film’s true (four-legged) star. Triet also discusses her choices around music (or the lack thereof), editing, and the layout of the chalet—an element that could have easily warranted its own featurette.

Though there isn’t a dedicated featurette on the chalet, there are 26 minutes of rehearsal footage showcasing Machado-Graner working with fellow actor Sandra Hüller, getting acquainted with Messi, learning to play the piano, and using VR goggles to simulate his character’s visual impairment. Additionally, two sets of recordings cover his auditions, totaling about 11 minutes. There’s also 13 minutes of footage featuring Antoine Reinartz (with hair).

One feature about Messi proves to be the most disappointing. Running 8 minutes, it features Messi and his trainer, Laura Martin, and seems to have been created as a web video for the magazine Madmoizelle. It’s a fluff piece, frustratingly edited in a manner typical of TikTok, frequently cutting off Martin and switching away from Messi just as they show his training. My biggest grievance with this program is the lack of substantial footage of Messi in action. A few minutes of behind-the-scenes footage would have been more valuable, but it seems Criterion didn’t have more material to work with.

Rounding out the extras are the film’s North American trailer and five deleted and alternate scenes, which include an introduction and optional audio commentary from the director. The only true deleted scene features a psychic alluded to earlier in the film, while the rest are extended or alternate takes. In the commentary, Triet explains why these scenes were cut or altered, mainly because they didn’t have a payoff or didn’t play out as intended.

Additionally, the included insert features an essay by Alexandra Schwartz, discussing the film and its themes. Schwartz references comments from the director, including her initial concerns that the audience might lose sympathy for the main character too soon.

Overall, while the set isn’t overflowing with material, it meets expectations, and most of the content (apart from the piece on Messi and his trainer) proves to be worthwhile.

Closing

It features a strong A/V presentation and a decent smattering of supplements.

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Directed by: Justine Triet
Year: 2023
Time: 151 min.
 
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 1218
Licensor: Neon
Release Date: May 28 2024
MSRP: $39.95
 
Blu-ray
1 Disc | BD-50
1.85:1 ratio
French 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround
Subtitles: English
Region A
 
 New interview with director Justine Triet   Deleted and alternate scenes with commentary by Justine Triet   Audition footage of actors Milo Machado Graner and Antoine Reinartz and rehearsal footage of Machado Graner and actor Sandra Hüller   Trailer   An essay by critic Alexandra Schwartz