Making Cannes winner Anatomy Of A Fall a marriage drama would be ‘annoying’, says director

SINGAPORE – In the French film Anatomy Of A Fall, a woman is accused of killing her husband. During cross-examination, details of their stormy marriage emerge.

French director Justine Triet’s feature won the 2023 Cannes Film Festival’s highest award of the Palme d’Or for, among other things, its observations about the struggle for dominance in a relationship and over issues such as money and parenting. It opens exclusively at The Projector on Nov 23.

Triet – who wrote the screenplay with her partner, French film-maker Arthur Harari – believes that if the story had just been a straightforward portrait of a marriage rather than a courtroom drama, it would have been robbed of its central idea: That a woman must defend the choices she makes in a relationship and be judged for it.

“I could have brought the audience in and said, okay, let’s go into this house and see this couple. It might have been, in a way, annoying. The form of the courtroom drama forces her to justify everything she has done,” says the 45-year-old film-maker, who spoke to The Straits Times in an online interview in a mix of French and English, with the help of a translator.

As the prosecution chips away at her story, the audience must choose whom to believe.

Anatomy Of A Fall never shows an objective point of view when it deals with the past; the viewers, like the judges, must create a reality from the testimony of witnesses.

“We think that the courtroom is the place where truth emerges. But it’s also a place where fiction can emerge. It’s a huge paradox. It was important to focus on that, so the story is not a simple whodunnit,” she says.

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