To hear it from the vast majority of critics, new movies are always one of two things — (a) masterful, brilliant, fulfilling and irresistably enjoyable or (b) disappointing or slack or even stinky. They’re never in-betweeners — not great but passable, very well made but not especially riveting, 70% worthwhile but 30% problematic, etc. Or mostly problematic but with a few really good aspects.

Worst of all, critics will often distort with overpraise. Sometimes you can just tell that they’ve decided to give a certain film is getting a pass because it exudes the right kind of social bonafides, and that’s that.

Take this line from an Anatomy of a Fall review by Film Yap‘s Nate Richards (posted on 10.26). The subhead calls Justine Triet’s murder investigation drama “one of the most gripping and memorable movies that you’ll see this year”…that’s a 100% decisive nope.

Anatomy of a Fall is a thorough, exacting and meticulous (read: exhausting) “what really happened?” exercise by way of a courtoom procedural, and is certainly smart and interesting as far as it goes but let’s not get carried away…please.

Sandra Huller is excellent as a bisexual writer accused of murdering her angry, pain-in-the-ass French husband (Samuel Theis), but the film goes on for 152 minutes, and the cloying kid playing Huhler’s half-blind son (Milo Machado-Graner) lays it on too thick, and the loud and relentless playing of an instrumental cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” drove me fucking nuts. The more I heard it, the more angry I felt…”Why is Triet making me listen to this over-loud track over and over?”

Another highly dubious declaration from Richards: “What makes Anatomy of a Fall so compelling is that Triet and Arthur Harari’s script has you constantly battle with yourself over whether or not you believe in Sandra’s innocence.” Not so! No battle! I was never even faintly persuaded that Huller might be a murderer…not for a minute.

Posted on 9.2.23: Smarthouse audiences will derive satisfaction from Justine Triet‘s Anatomy of a Fall, which is a longish investigative procedural-slash-courtoom “thriller”. Not to say it’s especially thrilling — it isn’t — but you can’t say it’s not thorough.

It’s about a renowned, middle-aged writer named Sandra (Sandra Huller) facing official suspicion over the possibly accidental (or not) death of her husband Samuel (Samuel Theis), also a writer but a less successful, more financially struggling one.

Theirs has been a turbulent relationship involving casual infidelities on her part, and the authorities suspect that Sandra may have pushed Samuel from the third floor of their A-framed Grenoble chalet.

The main takeaway is that Huller, best known for Toni Erdmann and currently also costarring in Jonathan Glazer‘s The Zone of Interest, is a major Best Actress contender.

Huller and Triet spoke prior to yesterday’s 1 pm screening at the Pierre.

I found Anatomy of a Fall fairly gripping (i.e., not spellbinding but fully deserving of my attention) but my knees were absolutely killing me in the tiny Pierre theatre, which affords no leg room.

I’m not so sure that Joe and Jane Popcorn will like it as much. It’s almost entirely set in the A-frame and in a courtoom, and it goes on for two and half hours.