HomeInterviewsAnatomy of a Fall : Press Conference with Actress Sandra Hüller

Anatomy of a Fall : Press Conference with Actress Sandra Hüller

Anatomy of a Fall : For the past year, Sandra, her husband Samuel, and their eleven-year-old son Daniel have lived a secluded life in a remote town in the French Alps. When Samuel is found dead in the snow below their chalet, the police question whether he was murdered or committed suicide. Samuel’s suspicious death is presumed murder, and Sandra becomes the main suspect. What follows is not just an investigation into the circumstances of Samuel’s death but an unsettling psychological journey into the depths of Sandra and Samuel’s conflicted relationship.

Rating: R (Violent Images|Some Language|Sexual References)

Genre: Mystery & thriller, Crime, Drama

Original Language: French

Director: Justine Triet 

Producer: Marie-Ange Luciani, Phillippe Martin, David Thion

Writer: Justine Triet, Arther Harari

Release Date (Theaters):  Limited

Box Office (Gross USA): $3.7M

Runtime:

Distributor: NEON

Production Co: Département de la Charente-Maritime, France Télévisions, Cinéventure 8, Les Films de Pierre, Les Films Pelléas, Doco Digital, Cinéventure 7, Cinémage 17, Ciné+, France 2 Cinéma, Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Cofinova 18, Indéfilms 11, Cinécap 5, Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Canal+

Anatomy of a Fall, Sandra@Courtesy of Neon, Sandra Hüller

 

Press Conference with Actress Sandra Hüller 

 

Q : Anatomy of a Fall is a courtroom drama, a family drama, a mystery and many other things. How did you perceive it when you read the script? 

Sandra Hüller – I didn’t really feel it was a courtroom drama, I wasn’t interested if she did it or not. That is not to me the central argument of the movie. It’s very interesting to me because I have a lot of people in my entourage that noticed that sort of problem. I was very interested in the observation about how the system works and I was eager to portray the person who gave voice to this issue.

I thought it was a feminist story to film in the first place. It talks about the misogyny of the system, not only the French system, it’s really universal. When the courtroom side of Anatomy of a Fall starts you can really feel all women are really on trial in one way or another.  All mothers and all those who are successful and try to be independent, who are mature in a way and cannot be easily manipulated, you know? It can be scary to a lot of people.

Q : This movie is the definition of an international movie. In terms of the language in the film you, a German actress, speak in English and French.What do you think about the language and the way it was used throughout the film going back and forth?  

Sandra Hüller – In Anatomy of a Fall language is like a character, a third person. It shows what we think about people when we are at home. Sandra, my character, needs to make herself understood because her life depends on it. That was a very interesting topic to explore, to work with across it. The relationship she builds with everybody is basically based on her effort to be understood, because of the language. Yeah. It’s the most important thing. Um, and also the thing I worked on most.

Q : What was the most challenging part of playing a character who has so much emotional turmoil inside? Was it hard to shake that, once the filming was over?

Sandra Hüller – No, it’s kind of like chargers. The emotions always direct the way we think. The stronger and the more precise they are, the easier you can understand your characters. And the bigger the defense around a character, the bigger the emotion becomes. I think I’m an easy shaking off person. It’s more like the things that went on in the body: the excitement, the adrenaline, the hormones. That’s something that I need some time to get away from. It takes a few weeks. But not so much a character.

Q : Can you talk about the way you worked with the remarkable young actor Milo Machado Graner who plays your son?

Sandra Hüller – He is very independent, very mature for his age, on the set he was making own decisions. He knows when to stop. He can protect himself and at the same time go deeply into a feeling. He would not like to get out of the set, so whenever we needed him he was available. He could hold on the fragility of the character for a long time until Justine could find what she was looking for.

And after that, he could get out of it. It was incredible to watch. He’s a very, very interesting young man. And very serious, but at the same time, you can have a lot of fun playing with him. Sometimes with children you have to give a lot of things to them in order to get something back. Milo really felt like a true partner, I didn’t feel like I was playing with a child.

Anatomy of a fall, sandra man

@Courtesy of Neon, Sandra Hüller and Swann Arlaud

Q : How do you approach Sandra’s character? Did you perceive her as guilty or innocent? And did you use that to play her?

Sandra Hüller – Sometimes I don’t only think about the character, but more about what we want to achieve. In this case, it was very important that we wanted to say something about how  women in general are treated and the way we fantasize about them when we don’t have all the information, and how our perception of them changes. We wanted to create the sort of movie where the audience can’t be completely sure, they would have to think about it themselves.

Why they like her at some point and why they agree with her. Or they don’t.  That would have been impossible if I just played a character who’s definitely innocent. I think I would’ve made other choices in playing her. But this balance that you see in the film is something that we really, really wanted to achieve. Justine did a lot of experiments during the editing,  because in some screenings people were completely on her side, while in other screenings they hated her. In Anatomy of a Fall, no matter what the truth is, it’s what the movie shows that counts.

Q : How was working again with Justine Triet a few years after Sibyl?  

Sandra Hüller – She loves to collect material, which I like very much. I love this process of not exactly knowing what will be the right choice. So you kind of take everything. She doesn’t put a label on things like writing a script script, defining characters, talking about them and all these things And still in the end Anatomy of a Fall has the look of the film she wanted to achieve. I love the fact that she always runs around barefoot.

Q : Did you do any research about women who were condemned for murder?

Sandra Hüller – No, that was all in my imagination. When we shot the movie there was the trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard that happened parallel. There was a woman in court that I could see almost every day. We watched a lot of that footage. Our story is not linked, but it’s also a marriage that failed.

That’s maybe the only thing that kind of was there all the time. And we really couldn’t believe that was happening simultaneously. But the preparation really had more to do with the language and with improving the French. And with discipline. With deciding  what sort of English she would speak: it’s more German or the mixed with English from London where she lived. Trying to find out what the connection to the partners would be. What was the chemistry between them? The love that we never really see, but we feel it all the time.

Q : How was it to listen to the same song again and again and again during the shooting?

Sandra Hüller -It went straight in our head. I found the choice really smart I have to say. Because we did something that can be really annoying after a time because it also appeals.I feel it works very, very well. And  it’s disturbing because of course it challenges the mood of this audience. I think it’s really smart.

Anatomy of a fall, Milo

@Courtesy of Neon, Milo Machado Graner

Q : Did you shoot the arguing scene in the kitchen in just one tape?  

Sandra Hüller – Yes, it was always intended as a long shot. Yeah.  It took us two days to shoot it. So it was a long, long process because we didn’t rehearse it before. Only while the camera was running. We basically discovered during the shooting how far away we would be in the beginning and how long it could take until their frustration exploded. We discovered it would take a very long time. Yeah.  It was basically always one take, but it was a lot of one takes.

Q : Thanks to Anatomy of a Fall you are getting a lot of attention and recognition: did you ever imagine this movie would get this kind of reaction?  

Sandra Hüller – When you shoot a movie you never know where this is going. I mean, as artists we know which kind of connection we are building, to the project and between us. I felt this trip was nearing very, very good and then I could rely on it. Of course we could’ve made some mistakes along the way.

But Justine is such a great director that, I knew that whatever we would have done together, there would have been a lot of effort, rewriting everything anyway, in the editing. I was sure we were doing serious, very serious work.  And I think Anatomy of a Fall has certainly sparked so much conversation about its themes. What it’s really about even right down to the title, because it works on different levels.

Q : What is the first thing you try to do in order to understand your characters? 

Sandra Hüller – I don’t do much. I just put them on when I decide to spend time on a project I believe in. I definitely don’t have a sort of routine or something to get close to a character. It’s like they enter my life the moment that I decide to spend time with them, and then they’re kind of everywhere. It’s likeI constantly falling in love, when you’re kind of obsessed with felons and kind of fantasizing about them.  When it’s people who actually lived and who I want to understand, of course I have to do a lot of research and try to find out about them.

Q : In your first main role in Requiem you had to portray a young woman who was abused by the rules of society. Can you make a comparison with Sandra in Anatomy of a Fall?

Sandra Hüller – I never thought about it. I think that Michelle, my character in Requiem, also wants to be understood. She wants people to understand what’s going on with her. Something that it’s really not so easy to explain. She’s a bit more desperate than Sandra. And of course younger, weakened by  an illness..

Q : Which other movies do you consider the most important of your career?  

Sandra Hüller – I could never say that. Um, I don’t like to distinguish so much because every little thing is connected to the next one. And then to the one before, and they kind of nurture each other. So for me they’re all like people that I met once. Like all the characters, like people that I know. I don’t have a favorite.

Anatomy of a Fall, dog @Courtesy of Neon

Check out more of Adriano’s articles. 

Here’s the trailer of the film.

 

Adriano Ercolani
Adriano Ercolani
Adriano Ercolani Profile Italian Film Critic and TV Author living in New York since 2011. Critics Choice Association member. Graduated in History of Cinema in Rome, he works as a freelance correspondent for some of the most important Italian outlets like Hollywood Reporter Italy, Comingsoon.it, Cinefilos.it and Ciak Magazine. He started working as a film critic almost thirty years ago: in his career he attended the most important Film Festivals (Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, New York Film Festival, Tribeca) and conventions (San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con, Disney D23). All over the years he has interviewed some of the most important contemporary authors like Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, Alexander Payne, Joel and Ethan Coen, Kathryn Bigelow, Christopher Nolan, Greta Gerwig, Jane Campion). In 2009 he interviewed Christiane Kubrick and Ian Harlan inside Stanley Kubrick’s private office. Other than movies he is fond of American literature and basketball. Los Angeles Lakers fanatic. He lives in New York with his wife and his bossy 3-year -old daughter.

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