Neon Acquires Justine Triet’s Hitchcockian Courtroom Drama ‘Anatomy of a Fall’

Neon has acquired Justine Triet’s Hitchcockian courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

The U.S. distributor has been “aggressively pursuing” the competition title, which premiered in Cannes on Sunday to rapturous reviews and early Palme d’Or buzz. In the 150-minute film, a frustrated writer dies of suspicious causes, leaving behind clues that implicate his wife (Sandra Hüller) of his murder.

Much of the film is focused on the ensuing trial, and features German star Hüller, known to international audiences for “Toni Erdmann,” delivering a powerhouse performance as a woman fighting to clear her name while protecting the couple’s young son. (Hüller previously teamed with Triet for psychological drama “Sibyl,” which also competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2019.)

In his review, Variety critic Peter Debruge writes: “From the opening scene, set in an unfinished chalet in the French Alps, it often feels as if the movie is eavesdropping on moments too intimate to be shared — except that husband and wife are both novelists, and domestic conflict serves as the raw material of their work.”

Since its premiere, “Anatomy of a Fall” has drawn comparison’s to Alice Diop’s French-language courtroom drama “Saint Omer,” which wooed audiences in Venice and Toronto last year. Neon’s boutique distribution label Super swooped for the film during TIFF, and the pic went on to represent France in the international feature Oscar race, getting shortlisted but ultimately missing out on a nomination.

“Anatomy of a Fall” is markedly different in subject matter and approach, but holds an audience’s attention for the duration of its 2.5-hour runtime thanks to complex psychological portraits of its two protagonists — one of whom dies in the first 10 minutes of the movie. (There’s also a criminally catchy instrumental rendition of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” early on in the film that lingers for days, and a border collie that steals the show.)

The deal marks something of a thaw in the Cannes sales market, where business is moving at glacial pace this year due to an abundance of caution by buyers challenged by trying economic conditions. A sluggish U.S. specialty market is also prompting more vigilance around the kinds of movies that are acquired, with buyers on the lookout for titles with built-in hooks, conceits or star power that will translate on the big screen. Nevertheless, the deal marks the second pick-up out of Cannes for Neon following “Robot Dreams” and comes on the heels of Netflix’s $11-million acquisition of Todd Haynes’ “May December.”

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