A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Life, relationships, and family can be difficult. Little moments from people's lives don't necessarily reflect the whole story. Don't project your own feelings and prejudices on others. It's better to tell the whole truth rather than hide certain things.
Positive Role Models
Sandra is a loving mother who cares deeply for her son, Daniel. This includes refusing to allow him to be labeled "handicapped" and treated differently on account of his accident that left him visually impaired. However, she does have flaws, and is shown to lie and cheat on her husband. Her legal team works hard to give her the best defense possible. Daniel is a sweet kid who finds himself in an incredibly difficult situation. He makes questionable decisions but this comes from him wanting to do the right thing in protecting his mother.
Central character Sandra is a White German woman who speaks French and English. She is a complex, well-written character. She is bisexual and although that plays a part in the story, it is not something that is sexualized or used for titillation. It's revealed that she concentrated on her career while her husband homeschooled their son, Daniel, which is reversal of gender roles so often seen on screen, although this does cause arguments between the couple. Daniel is visually impaired but is not defined by it; he goes for walks with his dog and plays piano. Sandra talks in depth about how she wanted to protect Daniel from being labeled "handicapped." A female character asks to be called "Ms." rather than "Miss," as she doesn't want to be defined by her marital status. Much discussion about depression and suicide. Few talking parts for people of color. Directed and co-written by the female French filmmaker Justine Triet.
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Violence & Scariness
A dead body is seen lying next to a house; bloody wound on head and blood stains in snow. Much discussion about how this came to be and the injuries suffered. The same body is examined on an autopsy table with a close-up of the head wound. Hypothetical depictions of a character falling from a third-floor window to their death, as well as being hit over the head and pushed off a balcony. A dummy is pushed out of a window in a reenactment. A heated argument is heard on an audio recording, which includes the sound of hitting and glass being broken. Mention of someone breaking a finger after punching a wall. Reference to a child being hit by a motorbike and losing some of their sight. Multiple references to suicide. A dog is given paracetamol and is seen in distress, struggling for breath; it's made to vomit and survives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Reference to extramarital affairs and attraction between characters. Discussions about a married couple's sex life, both between the couple themselves and in a courtroom. A dead body is seen on an autopsy table, buttocks briefly visible. A young boy is seen taking a shower; no explicit nudity.
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Language includes "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "s--thole," "s--tty," "bitch," and "pissed off."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke and drink sporadically throughout. Two characters say they could "drink all night" and are visibly a little drunk. A character drinks wine during the day, something that is discussed during the court case. Reference to someone being on antidepressants (and potentially becoming dependent on them), and a suicide attempt involving paracetamol (acetaminophen in the U.S.). A dog is fed paracetamol too, but survives. Fleeting jokey reference to drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Anatomy of a Fall is a superb French courtroom drama with adult themes, references to suicide, occasional strong language, and some violence. Following the death of her husband in suspicious circumstances, Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) becomes the prime suspect and her young son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), the main witness. A man is shown jumping from a third-floor window and then being hit over the head and pushed off a balcony, in what are deemed two possible ways in which the victim died. The dead body is seen in close-up with a bloody wound to the head. A violent altercation is also heard on an audio recording. There are multiple references to suicide as this becomes the defense's main argument. An incident where someone swallowed a load of pills is discussed, and this leads to someone feeding the family dog paracetamol (or acetaminophen, as it's called in the United States). The dog survives but the scene may distress many. No sex is depicted, but there are references to affairs, and a couple's sex life is discussed. Characters smoke and drink throughout. There is also occasional strong language including variants of "f--k" and "s--t." The movie is in both French and English, with subtitles available. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.