A triumph. The 44-year-old French director received the Palme d'Or for her fourth feature film, Anatomy of a Fall. His most ambitious and successful film. After Jane Campion for The Piano Lesson in 1993 and Julia Ducournau for Titanium in 2021, she becomes the third director honored with the supreme award. The second French, therefore.
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Justine Triet was born as a filmmaker in Cannes. From film to film, it has crossed the selections, from the most confidential to the most prestigious. His first fiction feature film, The Battle of Solferino, starring Vincent Macaigne and Laetitia Dosch, was presented at the Acid in 2013. Victoria, with Virginie Efira and Vincent Lacoste, opened La Semaine de la critique in 2016 and 640,000 admissions when it was released. With Sibyl, in 2019, she entered the competition, already with Sandra Hüller in a secondary role. The German actress of Toni Erdmann wins the Palme d'Or and Grand Prix since she plays the wife of the Nazi commander of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Jonathan Glazer's The Zone of Interest.
Grudges and resentments
"Idon't know what it will be next time!" said Justine Triet to Le Figaro at the time of Sibyl. Now she knows. In 2023, she was back in competition and did not make the trip for nothing. Anatomy of a Fall, which she co-wrote with her partner, director Arthur Harari (Black Diamond, Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle) features Sandra, a successful writer living in a secluded chalet in the mountains with her partner Samuel, their 11-year-old son, Daniel, visually impaired since a car accident, and their dog. Samuel is found dead at the foot of the house, his skull exploded after falling from the balcony. Or from the window. The absence of witnesses sows doubt. Sandra was the only one present at the scene at the time. Suicide or homicide? An investigation for suspicious death is opened. A year later, Sandra finds herself in the dock and her son attends the hearing.
Begins a real trial film, brilliantly conducted. With experts and psychiatrists who contradict each other, exchanges of arms between the defense lawyer (Swann Arlaud) and the attorney general (Antoine Reinartz), dramatic events. Definitely, after The Goldman Trial by Cédric Khan presented at the opening of the Filmmakers' Fortnight, it is in the courts that the best films are made at Cannes this year.
Intimate and universal
Sandra maintains her innocence but does not make much effort to make herself sympathetic. "I don't believe in reciprocity in the couple," she says at the bar. It's naïve and depressing. Here, the main accused is not so much Sandra as the couple she formed with Samuel. Debates unpack dissension, grudges and resentments. Samuel's jealousy of Sandra, a recognized author when he suffers from a powerlessness to write, Sandra's differences in fidelity with women, Samuel's depression, guilt following their son's accident... A scalpel dissection, raw and cruel.
Triet skilfully mixes Bergman in Scènes de la vie conjugale and Preminger in Autopsy d'un meurtre. The couple is the great story of Justine Triet's cinema. All his films, in one way or another, from comedy to drama, work on the body this monstrous entity of an existence together. "Man and woman get along so badly only because they live in the same house," wrote Alexandre Vialatte. Justine Triet, receiving the Palme d'Or from Jane Fonda, said: "This film is the most intimate I have ever written." Intimate and universal. All couples will find themselves in this unkind but exciting mirror.