Parents' Guide to

Anatomy of a Fall

By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

French courtroom drama has violence, suicide, language.

Movie R 2023 151 minutes
Anatomy of a Fall movie poster: A dead man with blood coming out of his head lies on the snow while his wife and child hug.

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Powerful French courtroom drama

This award winning movie may end up as the best movie of 2024. It’s a French film, and francophiles will love the French jurisprudence system, the French Alps, and the language. This is a tense courtroom drama, that is also the fascinating story of a marriage. But the legal twists make the marriage story far more fascinating that most dramas on this theme. At times the movie is puzzling, but viewers who enjoy courtroom dramas will be fascinated by the French court system. The alleged crime is shown first in a way that the audience does not know if this is murder or a suicide, and the title is perfect. This is an anatomy lesson about marriage and trauma. The plot begins when 11-year-old son Daniel returns from a hike near his home in the French Alps to find his father dead in the snow outside their Chalet. At first this appears to be an accident, but when this is investigated his mother becomes a suspect. This Palme d’Or–winning movie is about the legal investigation into what happened, and whether he could have committed suicide, but the real themes are about truth, reality and psychology. There is also a strong undercurrent about a decent marriage that is deeply troubled, and every scene feels perfectly real. “Sometimes a couple is a kind of chaos” is a line from the movie that summarizes what seemed to be a happy marriage until the husband is found dead. The anatomy of the marriage is naked as the legal process investigates the alleged crime. But this is not Law and Order, and the movie avoids melodrama. This terrific film is ultimately about the chasm between how we see others and who they really are. The movie tells us we cannot make this distinction, but the legal system has to- because someone has been accused of a crime. The movie shows our cultural struggles with postmodernism, moral confusion and the nature of truth.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

On the surface, this excellent French film is a courtroom drama that will keep you guessing right to the end. But Anatomy of a Fall is so much more than that. Its themes are as wide ranging as depression, jealousy, and guilt, as the relationship between Hüller's character, Sandra, and her deceased husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis), is put under the microscope. With Sandra the prime and only suspect in Samuel's death, the film trickles out snippets from their marriage, each one causing you to reassess what you previously thought. If that wasn't enough to keep your attention, there's also the fact that the couple's son is a key witness for the prosecution. Hüller is so good. As she bounces between speaking English (her character's preferred language, other than her native German) and French (the preferred language of her husband and the courts), so does the viewer's verdict as to her guilt or innocence. Her marriage to Samuel no doubt had its issues, in large part due to an accident Daniel had, which left him visually impaired. But was it enough to push her to murder? As the film demonstrates, pick at any relationship or family dynamic and you'll find cracks. This is a movie that will keep you thinking not just throughout its runtime, but long after the credits roll.

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