The Cannes Film Festival competition presented Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall and Karim Aïnouz’s Firebrand (Queen’s Gambit).
Festival de Cannes 2023 : the competition today presents Justine Triet‘s Anatomy of a Fall, a trial film and a historical costume film: Firebrand (Queen’s Gambit) by Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz, which features King Henry VIII (who is said to have inspired Bluebeard because of his ill-fated relationships with his first five wives) and Catherine Parr, his sixth and last wife, the “survivor”.
Anatomy of a Fall, defeat of a couple
After Sybil, in 2019, in which Justine Triet explored the soul of an actress, in Anatomy of a Fall, her fourth feature film, the director explores the fall of a body as much as the fall of a love story. Sandra, Samuel and Daniel, their 11-year-old visually impaired son, have been living in an isolated corner of the mountains for a year. One day, Samuel is found dead at the foot of their house. An investigation for suspicious death is opened and Sandra is soon charged despite the doubt: accident, suicide or murder? A year later, Daniel attends his mother’s trial, a real dissection of the couple, in a descent into judicial hell. Anatomy of a Fall is an ambitious film about the defeat of a couple, with a precise reconstitution of the judicial machine and an intimate approach to the characters.
Firebrand: the queen’s muddled gambit
In 1546, Henry VIII (Jude Law), heir of the Tudors, King of England, France and Ireland, leads a military campaign in France. Queen Catherine Parr (Alicia Vikander), the King’s sixth wife, is appointed Regent to take care of current affairs. During this period, Catherine seeks to increase the influence of Protestant beliefs, including the ability to read the Bible in English. Unknown to the people, Latin masks religious precepts that could cast doubt on royalty – and ultimately on everything – and thus destabilise the kingdom. Anne Askew (Erin Doherty), a childhood friend of Catherine’s from the gentry, preaches revolt among the people but the King sends her to the stake.
Condemning Catherine as a heretic
As the Reformation progresses across Europe and into England, the disease progresses in the King’s leg after he is injured in a tournament. As the infection spreads through the King’s body, Bishop Gardiner (Simon Russell Beale) distills his poison into the monarch’s ear, urging him to condemn Catherine, who has just lost their child, as a heretic. With the help of her ladies-in-waiting, Catherine attempts to outwit the bishop, the court and the king and survive the betrayal. The film is based on Elizabeth Fremantle‘s novel Queen’s Gambit, published in 2012. The British writer depicts the troubled life of Catherine Parr at the Tudor court, in a story of manipulation and power, where felonies, conspiracies and betrayals abound against a backdrop of tyranny.
A little-known facet of British royalty
After The Sky of Suely, The Silver Cliff and The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (Un Certain Regard Award 2019), Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz competes for the Palme d’Or for the first time with this superb film, masterfully interpreted in sublime light and a dark, tragic atmosphere where the “bloody” side of the Tudors stands out. The film focuses on the struggle of a woman against male domination, the power of men who decide everything and refuse to see the possibility of a better future. This force of nature sheds light on a little-known facet of British royalty. The film received an eight-minute standing ovation in the Grand Audi Lumière.
The Red Carpet of Firebrand in pictures
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