‘Anatomy of a Fall’ complex, worthwhile mystery

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Cannes award-winner “Anatomy of a Fall” suggests a mash up of last year’s “Tar” with Sandra Huller (“Toni Erdmann”) giving a Cate Blanchett-level performance as a writer accused of her husband’s murder; Ingmar Bergman’s landmark “Scenes from a Marriage;” and, of course, Otto Preminger’s courtroom classic “Anatomy of a Murder.”

Directed and co-written by Justine Triet (“Sibyl”), the film is a dense, sophisticated deep dive into the complexities of a marriage after the French husband dies in a tumble from the third floor of the family’s fix-it-up, wooden chalet in Grenoble, where he, his German writer-wife and their piano-playing 11-year-old son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) lived.

Before her husband’s death, Huller’s Sandra Voyter is interviewed in the chalet by a young journalist. But they have to give up because Sandra’s husband Samuel Maleski (Samuel Theis), also a writer, although a failed one, is renovating on the third floor and blaring deafening music.

When their son Daniel, whose vision has been impaired by an accident, returns to the chalet with the blue-eyed family dog Snoop, he finds his father bleeding and mortally injured at a front of the chalet. He calls his mother. But it is too late; the man dies. How did he fall? He has an injury that suggests that he was whacked on the skull before he fell. Will the wife, the only known person to have been in the chalet, be indicted? A suspect, she is interviewed by the authorities.

One of the many things we learn about Sandra and Samuel (the characters have the same first names as the actors) is that they use real experiences and people they know as fodder for their fiction. In fact in a crucial development, the authorities learn that Samuel may have been recording a fight he got into with Sandra on the day before his death. The case becomes news. Sandra becomes the focus of national attention. Her neighbors in the glorious Alpine city of Grenoble never accepted her, and yet they pack the courtroom where her fate will be decided.

Huller is like quicksilver as the accused wife. It’s impossible to get a fix on her. While she hikes the mountainous area near the chalet, the authorities eerily reenact the accident in the distance using a dummy. At times, “Anatomy of a Fall” reminds one of Park Chan-wook’s similarly labyrinthine and darkly romantic 2022 murder mystery “Decision to Leave.” Sandra and her lawyer Vincent Renzi (vulpine-faced Swann Arlaud) appear on the verge of more than a professional relationship. In one heated exchange with her husband, Sandra says that she was forced by their marriage to leave her home in Germany and her language to live in Grenoble and speak French. In “Anatomy of a Fall,” all marriages are a mystery.

At two-and-a-half hours, “Anatomy of a Fall” can be a tough sit. But like “Sibyl,” Triet’s 2019 “Persona”-like examination of a relationship between a psychologist-writer (Virginie Efira) and an actor (Adele Exarchopoulos), the film is full of fascinating flourishes. At the tribunal, lawyers clatter up and down stairs like mice in a maze, while the “other” audience, the one in the courtroom, sits slavering for more juicy bits about Sandra’s sexual history to be revealed. The film is a sexual house of mirrors. As you try to figure out whodunnit, Vincent whips up a lunch of spaghetti, parmigiano and fresh pepper. Huller is riveting as usual, and “Anatomy of a Fall” gives us a lot to chew over.

(“Anatomy of a Fall” contains gruesome images, profanity and mature themes)

“Anatomy of a Fall”

Rated R. In English, German and French with subtitles. At the AMC Boston Common and Coolidge Corner Theater. Grade: A-

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