I have been agnostic about Justine Triet’s work previously, however her courtroom drama homicide thriller on this yr’s Cannes competitors, with its ambiguous title and ambiguous dénouement, may be very intriguing. It jogged my memory at numerous phases of Billy Wilder’s Agatha Christie adaptation Witness for the Prosecution or Steven Bochco’s underrated, under-remembered 90s TV drama Homicide One.
Sandra Hüller performs Sandra, a profitable and trendy creator (that staple determine of French cinema), German by delivery, however now residing in a good-looking chalet within the French Alps along with her French husband Samuel (Samuel Theis), a former tutorial and would-be creator himself, who has now hit a profession hunch and inventive block and is at present hoping to salvage the household funds by fixing up the chalet as an Airbnb. It’s whereas he’s grumpily sawing and hammering upstairs, with the music on too loud, that Sandra makes an attempt to offer an interview, which merely must be deserted due to the noise. Sandra wearily makes an attempt to take a nap, whereas the couple’s son Daniel (Milo Machado Graner) takes their canine Snoop for a stroll.
However when he returns, his dad’s corpse is mendacity on the snow exterior the chalet with a brutal wound on his head. Did he fall from the highest window? Did his head hit one thing on the way in which down? Or did somebody hit him? Poor Daniel is an unreliable witness as a result of he’s blind, the results of an accident which Sandra all the time blamed on Samuel, who was imagined to be taking care of him on the time, and which brought about Samuel to spiral into depressive anger; he hated Sandra for her affairs and for plagiarising what she felt was an thought of his — Sandra maybe nonetheless blamed him for his or her son’s situation. It isn’t lengthy earlier than the cops have snapped the cuffs on Sandra and charged her with homicide. She employs as her lawyer an previous pal (Swann Arlaud) who might in love along with her. But her destiny should still lie within the arms of her blind son who noticed nothing in any respect, but may nonetheless keep in mind one thing handy at any second.
Sandra Hüller’s calm directness as an actor is what provides the movie its texture, substance and emotional pressure. She anchors it in a sort of accessible actuality: we naturally sympathise along with her, and but Triet exhibits us that she is able to clear lies, lies that are virtually credible as a result of Hüller is such a believable persona. The lads that encompass her appear to be over-emotional, extra emotional than her — odd, as she is the one dealing with a jail sentence.
And because the movie pursues its personal forensic model of drama: we see the physique itself examined, and the occasion itself bizarrely reconstructed by the defence, with a dummy dropped from the window, to find out if the corpse’s trajectory and the ensuing blood splatters incriminate Sandra or not. The movie doesn’t signpost the normal twists and turns and dramatic reversals, however retains a cool distance, letting us marvel if Sandra is responsible or not, and we’re saved guessing till the tip. It’s a lowkey, virtually downbeat drama, however with one thing invigoratingly cerebral.