Anatomy of a Fall Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

After watching some movies, there is no way you can say that you had a carefree and enjoyable time. It doesn’t mean that the movies are bad, not at all. It’s just that they require more from you than just watching them. After leaving the theater, you can not immediately share at least approximate impressions, and analysis of what you have seen can take days or even weeks. Such films epitomize a separate category of cinematic art, in which the emphasis on the particle “art” as if elevated to an absolute, but unnecessary pathos and pretentiousness is still not felt. “Anatomy of a Fall” is one of such movies. We tell you in our review how it turned out.


An outstanding combination of the harsh reality of life and complex relationships within one family; maximum sincere acting; drama and plot development, in which every scene deserves attention; a huge number of acutely social themes, successfully woven into the overall narrative


Not always successful comedic elements

Anatomy of a Fall movie meaning

Genre Dramatic Thriller
Directed by Justine Trieu
Starring Sandra Hüller, Svann Arlo, Antoine Reinartz, Milo Machado-Graner, Samuel Theiss
Premiere in theaters
Year of release 2023
IMDb Website

A writer living in France, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), finds herself at the center of big trouble when her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis) is found dead. He had fallen out of a window and smashed his head, and suspicion of premeditated murder falls on Sandra. Her son Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner) becomes the main witness, but his poor eyesight due to a past injury makes it difficult for him to testify. Sanda asks her lawyer acquaintance Vincent to help her defend her honor. This begins an extremely tense trial that will reveal many ambiguous aspects of one family’s life.

“Anatomy of a Fall” (or “Trajectory of a Fall,” but the former option better fits the essence of the movie) debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023 – and almost immediately became a sensation in film critic circles. It took home the Palme d’Or, but that award was only the first in a huge list of nominations and wins.

Already from the point of view of recognition in “high circles” alone, “Anatomy of a Fall” can be called one of the most outstanding films of the year. Perhaps, one of the most outstanding in the entire existence of cinematography.

But what’s so great about it? To begin with, it is worth at least with the fact that at first he skillfully pretends to be a detective, although with the course of the plot categorically refuses his detective essence. After all, with the appearance of new evidence and testimonies, the story does not become easier, and you should not ask yourself the eternal for the genre question “who is the murderer?”. The movie deliberately pushes you to refuse to be categorical, and thanks to this decision it turns from a classic (and rather laconic in its plot) puzzle into an abstraction on a variety of topics.

However, if you want strict terminology, the movie is closest to the genre of courtroom drama (legal drama). In such works, it is the courtroom proceedings that are emphasized. In “Anatomy of a Fall” they are shown perfectly. Remember how the final third of “Oppenheimer” was praised just for the interrogations and dialogues in court? Against the background of Justine Trieu’s work, Nolan’s sublimity seems maximally naive and artificial.

The trial in “Anatomy of a Fall” becomes the underside of human souls and a prism through which the viewer can look at the complex life of the protagonist’s family. But this same prism also reflects the mood of society, some of the political trends in France, and many other things.

The trial in the movie is such a complex event that each of its individual scenes deserves its own independent work. However, “Anatomy of a Fall” does not feel overloaded, every element, every phrase in it is in its rightful places.

Every conversation in the game resembles both a fierce battle and the most sincere exposure of human nature. Sandra’s relationship with her son because of the court proceedings begins to crack at the seams, each can only aggravate her already precarious position. In this case, the impartiality of the court does not help the woman. In addition, the public nature of her profession fuels interest in the court from outsiders, turning the tragedy of one family into entertainment for gawkers.

Sandra’s writing profession occupies a separate place in the plot. Her husband was also a writer, but many moments in his career did not go the way he wanted. And in the relationship between two extremely creative people, there will always be extremely tense moments. “Anatomy of a Fall” perfectly captures this moment as well, while not turning writing into something lofty and distant. Again, one of the movie’s greatest accomplishments is perfectly conveying the most important moments of a person’s life in a mundane, almost trivial way.

“Anatomy of a Fall” deserves separate essays because it has a huge layer of themes. Sandra’s bisexual nature plays an important role in the story. And separately, the movie highlights the attitude toward the French language in France, which is elevated to an absolute.

Sandra is not fluent in French, which is a limitation and casts a shadow on her reputation. Each fragment here is so verified that one can only marvel at the skill of the film crew.

Needless to say, the effect of the movie would be completely different without the stunning acting of all the participants of the movie. But the main star is Sandra Hüller, who is reincarnated as a strong and not the most pleasant woman, who still remains a person in trouble and deserves her drop of sympathy. There is a certain irony that the actors who played Sandra and Samuel in the movie are named Sandra and Samuel in real life. It seems like a small detail, but it adds to the charm of the piece.

Milo Machado-Graner as young Daniel also squeezes the most out of his acting talent. Child actors are always a big risk for dramas. But here he’s maxed out to the max. And that’s considering Daniel is not the most standard kid in not the most standard situation. But you believe him, and as the movie progresses, his character and abrupt forced maturation take their rightful place in the story.

“Anatomy of a Fall” is filled with many small details that one wants to discuss separately. For example, the meticulous recreation of the moment of Samuel’s death, in which even a small spot of blood can change the course of the case. Or the musical interludes, through which we are shown the growing gap between Sandra and Daniel. There is even room for a little experimentation with humor. It is cynical and, let’s be honest, not always appropriate, but it does not spoil the overall impression.

When the final credits start crawling across the screen, you get the impression that you have watched something not for outsiders’ eyes. Something forbidden and sacred, something that should sink into the family archives somewhere in a distant country house. That’s how sincere every second of the movie looks. Returning to the title, the word “anatomy” fits perfectly into the overall plot. Even though the local level of drama is at a prohibitive level, the drama is still as structured as possible, just like a trial.

The combination of detached pragmatism and the tragedy of human hearts makes “Anatomy of a Fall” a cinematic treasure. And it is all the more interesting to ponder it after the finale. Because there is definitely a lot to think about.


“Anatomy of a Fall” would very much like to call it a masterpiece, but this term seems maximally vulgar and inappropriate in relation to such a wonderful movie. Yes, it requires diligence and attention to every phrase. But if, as a result, you penetrate at least a third of local thoughts, you will fully understand how the movie got so many awards. And that’s only a third of its greatness.

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