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Anatomy Of A Fall (2023) | Transcript

A woman is suspected of her husband's murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the main witness
Anatomy Of A Fall (2023)

Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

Director: Justine Triet
Writers: Justine Triet, Arthur Harari
Stars: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner

Anatomy of a Fall is a French courtroom drama thriller film released in 2023, directed by Justine Triet and starring Sandra Hüller as Sandra Voyter, a writer accused of murdering her husband Samuel (Swann Arlaud). It explores the unraveling of a marriage and the impact of a suspicious death on a family living in the isolated French Alps.

The film opens with Samuel falling to his death from their chalet attic. Sandra is immediately suspected, especially because their marriage was on rocky ground. Samuel was a composer struggling with writer’s block and harboring a secret addiction, while Sandra, a successful writer herself, felt neglected and unfulfilled.

As the investigation unfolds, the film delves into the complex dynamics of their relationship. We see flashbacks of their past happiness and growing resentments, along with interviews with friends and family who offer conflicting perspectives on the couple and their marriage.

Sandra’s son Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner), who is blind, becomes a key witness. He can only relate his own experiences and suspicions, adding another layer of ambiguity to the case.

The film masterfully builds tension through the courtroom proceedings. Sandra’s lawyer, Vincent Renzi (Vincent Lindon), tries to discredit the prosecution’s case by highlighting Samuel’s mental state and the possibility of suicide.

The climax of the film comes with the final verdict, but whether Sandra is found guilty or innocent is not the film’s main focus. Instead, it is about the emotional toll of the investigation and trial on the family, the irreparable damage done to their lives, and the lingering questions about what truly happened on that fateful day.

Anatomy of a Fall received critical acclaim for its gripping story, nuanced performances, and exploration of complex themes.

It won the Palme d’Or and the Palm Dog Award at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.

Parental advisory:
• United States: the film is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
• Canada: The film is rated 14A by the Alberta Film Classification Board and PG by the Ontario Film Review Board. These ratings suggest it is suitable for teenagers with minimal concerns about language or suggestive content.
• France: The film is rated Tous publics (suitable for all audiences) by the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC).

* * *

(electricity buzzing)

(power panel thumps)

(buzzing)

(dramatic flourish playing)

(dramatic theme playing)

(light dramatic theme playing)

(sauntering theme playing)

(object lightly thumps)

(Sandra clears throat)

SANDRA (in English): Sorry…

ZOE (in English): It’s okay.

(Sandra chuckles nervously)

SANDRA: Well…

what do you want to know?

ZOE: Oh. Oh, just a sec.

It hasn’t recorded… Heh.

(ball thumping)

There.

Um, so, the way you describe the son’s accident…

DANIEL (in French): Come, Snoop!

ZOE (in English): It’s troubling to the reader, because we know it’s your life.

Do you think one can only write from experience?

(Zoe and Sandra continue chatting in distance)

(water running)

(Snoop panting)

(in French) Come. Jump!

Jump!

(Snoop whimpers)

(speaking French)

(Snoop whimpers)

(groans) Jump. Jump.

(in English) …and then that leads me to an interesting story.

And I decide to put you in the book I’m writing.

And that’s it, it’s not more.

You’re in the book!

And yet I don’t know you.

What I do know about, is my interest in you, and that is real.

Yeah, but still, you had to meet me first.

I’m real, in front of you, now.

SANDRA (laughs): Yes, that you are.

Yeah. Yeah.

So, for you to start inventing, you need something real first.

You say your books always mix truth and fiction, and that makes us want to figure out which is which.

You want?

ZOE: Is that your goal?

What’s…

(chatting continues in distance)

(sniffs)

(in French) Okay, get out.

Snoop, come!

Let’s dry you off. You’re nice and clean.

No more dirt.

(“P.I.M.P.” by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band playing over speakers in distance)

(Daniel mumbling)

(clamoring in distance)

(objects thumping in distance)

SANDRA (in English): What would you write about?

It’s Samuel working upstairs my husband.

(thumping continues in distance)

So, what interests you?

What makes you so mad you want to explore it?

Forget about your thesis, your studies…

I don’t want to be a writer.

SANDRA: Well, it’s okay.

You don’t have to write, just talk.

Like we’re talking now.

You don’t want to go on with my questions?

SANDRA: Of course I want to go on because… Of course!

But we could chat too.

Maybe we ask one question each?

So nobody’s frustrated, like a normal conversation.

(laughs)

Are you really interested in what I…?

In what interests you? C’mon!

Sure.

I never see anybody.

I work here all day long.

You come to see me. Of course you interest me.

Okay, um…

I run.

SANDRA: Mmhmm?

It’s one of my favorite things to do.

It makes me feel high, like I’m on drugs.

(Sandra laughs)

What do you know about drugs then?

Oh, a lot…

That’s the next question.

(Sandra laughs)

Big subject.

SANDRA: Maybe you don’t write everything down…

No, no, surely not. Mm.

(“P.I.M.P.” restarts playing over speakers in distance)

(laughs) I told you… we should’ve done this in Grenoble.

ZOE: Ah… It’s fine.

I’ll write your answers down.

But, uh, I have many, many questions, maybe you don’t have the time

Ah, don’t Don’t worry about time.

Time is not a problem here.

Okay. Cool.

Uh, I’d like to discuss storytelling as an investigation…

I don’t like sports.

That’s the first thing.

Walking, yes, maybe, running, no.

(laughs) No!

Okay, right. I get it.

SANDRA: No…

Um, so, your…

(power tools buzz in distance)

It’s not really possible anymore, is it?

ZOE: Yeah. It’s complicated.

So, yeah.

I think we have to stop, Zoé.

(power tools buzz in distance)

You know what, I’ll be in Grenoble soon, I’ll give you a call, how about that?

Okay.

(hammering in distance)

Sorry about that.

(loud pounding in distance)

SANDRA: Okay. Bye.

ZOE: Bye.

See you soon.

Yeah, definitely.

SANDRA: Yeah?

(car engine starts)

(panting)

(“P.I.M.P.” playing faintly in distance)

(water rushing in river nearby)

(groans, clears throat)

Whoa.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!

(in French) Careful.

(Daniel chuckles)

(speaks French)

(speaks French)

(“P.I.M.P.” continues playing)

(barks)

(Daniel exclaims)

(Snoop panting)

(Daniel whispers in French)

(Snoop barks and grunts)

DANIEL: Dad! Mom!

DANIEL: Mom!

Mom!

Mom!

(Snoop barking)

Mom, come quick!

(cries)

Mom!

Mom!

(Daniel sobbing)

Mom!

(“P.I.M.P.” continues playing)

(Sandra speaking indistinctly in English)

SANDRA (in English): I don’t know, because I…

My child was calling me.

Eh… Yes!

No, he’s… I don’t know.

I didn’t move him. No, I didn’t touch him at all.

I think… He’s not breathing, that’s why I’m calling.

(Sandra breathing heavily)

No, please come, I can’t answer all these questions.

No.

(Sandra sobs)

No, he’s not He’s not moving.

Please just come!

(vehicle door closes)

(people chattering in French)

FEMALE REPORTER (in French): …Samuel Maleski, found dead below his chalet…

(people chattering in French)

(Sandra responding in French)

(Sandra sobbing)

(Sandra speaks through tears)

(camera flash clicks)

FORENSIC DOCTOR (in French): Turning him now.

Full shot.

Closeup.

FORENSIC DOCTOR: I’ll dictate the initial ideas.

Insert them before the conclusion.

The parallel, superficial abrasions on the hands and forearms suggest the body slid one or two meters upon impact before reaching its final, supine position.

A left temporal hematoma related to the fatal brain trauma indicates collision with a blunt object in the environment or a violent blow to the head.

Injury location is inconsistent with discovery position, thus impact occurred before the body hit the ground.

In conclusion, we cannot yet determine if the injury resulted from a collision or a blow.

We cannot, at this stage, rule out third-party involvement.

Then, the usual.

Cause of death: head trauma.

Forensic cause: accidental and/or deliberate.

Toxicological analysis needed to establish the truth.

(Daniel practicing Albeniz’ “Asturias (Leyenda)”)

(piano pauses)

(composition continues slowly)

(pauses, backs up)

(repeats previous section)

(plays section discordantly)

(pauses)

(playing section quicker in different octave)

(hitting intermittent discordant notes)

(pauses)

(playing same small section successfully)

(hitting several discordant notes)

(pauses)

(repeating section, with discordant notes)

(pauses)

(repeating section, with discordant notes)

(playing section repeatedly, successfully)

(pauses)

(finishes end of section successfully)

ANATOMY OF A FALL

(car approaching)

(car engine shuts off)

(car door closes)

SANDRA (in English): Thank you for coming.

VINCENT (quietly): Yeah, well…

This is really weird.

Yes.

Seeing you again, like this.

It is.

Okay.

(Vincent sighs)

I didn’t realize it was so high…

Yeah.

Come on!

Yeah.

(in French) Have you lived here long?

(in French) Less than two years.

(in English) It’s Samuel, he grew up here.

VINCENT: Mmhmm.

It’s his…

Well…

Well, um…

How… How… How are we gonna do this?

Do you… Will you ask me some questions and…?

VINCENT: Yeah.

I’m really sorry that my French isn’t any better than when we met…

(in English) No, uh, English is fine.

SANDRA: Okay.

Um…

How many times have you been questioned?

It’s been once here by the policemen and once by the investigative judge.

VINCENT: Okay. Can you tell me, um, what you told them about the day he died?

Yes, of course.

SANDRA (in distance): I told them everything about the moment I was with the student until the ambulance got here.

I was in the middle of a meeting with this girl, and, um, Samuel started… blasting a song on repeat to piss me off and make her leave.

Is that what you told them, that he’d played the song to piss you off?

No.

No.

I just said that he played the song super loud, and that we had to stop because she was recording the interview and it wasn’t possible anymore, it was…

VINCENT: Hmm. Good.

I– I need you to be precise.

Um, tell me everything, I mean exactly the way you told them.

Yes.

(clears throat)

So, I told them that I put an end to the interview and that she left.

And I went upstairs to my bedroom.

And that’s when I saw Daniel go out for a walk.

He wasn’t at school, Daniel?

SANDRA: No. He only goes two days a week, it’s in Grenoble.

How old is he now?

He’s 11.

And, um…

So, after the girl left, um…

Samuel came down to see me in my bedroom and we spoke a little bit about what we were going to do that day, it was nothing special, really.

And, uh… he… He went back upstairs to work in the attic, and I worked a little in bed.

VINCENT: You wrote?

On your computer?

Yes.

I finished a translation.

I translate for several German weeklies, it’s for extra money.

And, um…

Yeah, I heard him working upstairs and play his music for about, I think, it must have been… 10 minutes.

And then I put some earplugs in, because I wanted to take a nap.

And… I fell asleep. And an hour later, I think, I heard Daniel scream. And, um…

(stammers, clears throat)

One of the earplugs must have fallen out, I guess, because it woke me up, and… the music was still on, and I ran downstairs, and…

Yeah, that’s it.

I called the SAMU and they arrived 30 minutes later.

Okay.

VINCENT: Um…

Can I take a look around?

Of course.

Yeah?

Yeah.

VINCENT: Um…

Where do you want to start?

Should I explain the…

Something?

VINCENT: Yeah.

Yeah, maybe, I don’t know.

Yeah. This is where…

Come on. This is where we eat.

(both scoff)

VINCENT: Sorry.

No.

So, ahem, he was working over there?

Yes, he was insulating the attic.

Ah. And, uh, and when you were having a nap, he was right above you?

Yes.

Okay.

SANDRA: So…

He was supposed to get to that next.

We wanted to make rooms for a B&B.

So he was working there?

SANDRA: These days, yes.

VINCENT: The… window?

Do you remember when the ambulance arrived, was it open?

Yes, it was.

VINCENT: He used to keep it open?

Um, I’m not sure of that really, because, uh, sometimes he would air the room, you know, because he wanted to get rid of the wood dust and…

VINCENT: Was he reckless? I mean, did he ever take some risks when he was working?

No. He was very cautious and meticulous he worked slowly.

VINCENT: Is there any reason why he would have leaned out the window, for instance to call out to you or Daniel?

No. When he was working, especially when he was playing his music, he, he kind of… he shut himself off from the rest of the world.

So he never called for me or Daniel up here.

VINCENT: Mmm. Well, anyway, with the height of the…

(speaks French)

SANDRA: Windowsill.

Windowsill…

SANDRA: Yeah.

Had he been drinking?

SANDRA: No, he never drank during the day, especially when he was working.

(Daniel sobbing)

SANDRA (in French): Sweetie.

(in English) You need to wash up and get dressed. It’s daytime, you need to get up.

Honey, I know this is hard, it’s hard for me too, and it’s going to be hard for a while.

(sobbing continues)

(footsteps approaching up stairs)

But we have to try and do the things that we did before.

Because I…

(footsteps stop)

Look, Monica came to see you, she made you tiramisu.

Yeah…

You can’t spend whole days like this without going outside.

It’s beautiful out, and Snoop needs to go out too.

MONICA (in French): Daniel, will you come eat with us?

DANIEL (in tears): I want to sleep.

MONICA: Okay, first eat with us, then you can sleep.

(Vincent chatting outside)

(Daniel sobbing quietly)

DANIEL: I don’t understand.

MONICA: No one understands.

We can’t understand.

DANIEL: I have to understand.

Remember the psychic I told you about, the one I saw when Alain died?

Monica.

DANIEL: I’d like to.

I’d rather you don’t…

He helped me a lot.

But he’s a child.

Don’t confuse things.

I’ll discuss it with Monica.

MONICA: He’s helped children before.

SANDRA: Want some?

(Monica departs)

(sobbing continues)

(in English) What do you need?

DANIEL (in French): Nothing, I’m okay.

Okay.

SANDRA: Mm.

MONICA (in French): Your doubts aside, it might help him.

He senses things we can’t.

(in French) Vincent, an old lawyer friend, Monica, Daniel’s godmother.

Bonjour.

Bonjour.

SANDRA: I’ll call you.

MONICA: Tell me if he eats.

(door closes)

VINCENT: Uh…

(in English) Uh, the plates?

There.

Yeah.

(opens drawer)

(plates clatter)

(sobbing)

I’m so tired of crying.

It’s really ridiculous. I’m so exhausted.

You want parmesan?

Yes. Yeah, it’s perfect.

And I don’t know where the pepper–

VINCENT: Don’t worry,

I’ll take care of everything.

So, as you know, the autopsy report is inconclusive about the cause of death.

Mmhmm.

The forensic pathologist didn’t have enough concrete elements.

But…

(scribbling with marker)

…what we can defend is a fall from the attic window, with him “bouncing” off the shed’s roof.

His head may have hit the edge somewhere around here.

You see?

SANDRA: Okay.

VINCENT: Then he would have landed on the ground, approximately here.

And it seems that he found the strength to crawl one meter or two before collapsing in this final position.

That explains the blood on the snow.

But there are several problems.

First, they found nothing on the roof no DNA, nothing.

And there is this… three blood spatters here on the wall.

It seems it doesn’t really match with the… head impact on the roof.

And the judge has asked an expert to clarify this.

SANDRA: Mmhmm.

And, when you see this, what do you think?

Um, I don’t know, I’m not a spatter analyst, but, uh, I know a very good one.

So, I’m gonna get her opinion.

There’s one last problem for us, the… that bruise on your arm.

It might look like the result of a fight, struggle.

SANDRA: Oh, yeah. Ahem.

Well, when did they see it?

They examined me that same night.

My sleeve was rolled up and they saw it.

Okay, and you explained it to them right away?

Yeah, I knew exactly how it happened.

Should I show you?

Yeah, please.

Ahem. So, when I’m here in the kitchen, I bang my arm on this all the time, you see?

Like when I move. Heh.

It’s ridiculous.

It happened several times that week, and, uh, I told them that my skin marks easily, and they could ask Daniel because he hears me bumping into it all the time.

Okay, well…

So, as you can see, an accidental fall is gonna be hard to defend, given the height of the… windowsill.

SANDRA: Mmhmm.

So that’s why there’s an investigation for “mort suspecte,” uh, and you’re, you’re, you’re “mort susp,” suspicious death. Yeah.

And you’re a témoin assisté because you were the only person there.

Okay.

And, of course, you’re his wife.

Um, now, looking for a stranger who walks in, kills him while you were sleeping right above and Daniel was out for a walk is a shitty strategy: Samuel had no enemies that make…

Stop, stop.

I did not kill him.

That’s not the point.

Really.

Um…

We have to go through Samuel’s personality.

What was he going through lately…

Is there anything that would seem consistent with a suicide?

I thought about this, obviously, but I just can’t imagine him jumping with Daniel so close by.

It’s just… I just can’t get it in my head.

Yeah, but it’s probably our best defense.

I mean, if they indict you, it’s our only defense.

But I think he fell.

Yeah, but nobody is going to believe that.

I don’t believe that.

I need a smoke.

(website playing Albeniz’ “Asturias (Leyenda)”)

(Daniel playing “Asturias (Leyenda)” on piano)

SANDRA: Vincent… there is something I, uh, I want to tell you about.

(Daniel continues playing)

About six months ago, I wonder if Samuel didn’t swallow some pills.

I found him passed out drunk on the floor, he vomited.

It was very early in the morning. I…

There were some white spots in the vomit, and I remember wondering if they were pills.

VINCENT (over phone): Eh… really?

Yes.

And did you talk to him after… afterwards?

No, he didn’t want to talk about it.

Did Daniel see this?

No.

And you… called for a doctor or…

No. No, I didn’t realize it back then, but looking back at it now, it seems like it might have been a suicide attempt, no?

Does anyone know about this?

No.

Okay. Uh, I call you back.

Yes.

Okay, bye.

Bye.

(continues playing “Asturias (Leyenda)”)

(inaudible)

(chuckles)

(inaudible)

JUDGE JANVIER (in French): Is the light too bright?

Want me to lower the blinds?

I’m okay.

JUDGE JANVIER: Yeah?

Okay.

You didn’t tell me about your parents’ arguments.

What do you mean? I don’t really remember any.

When they start yelling, I prefer to leave.

JUDGE JANVIER: Can you tell me who was angrier?

No.

JUDGE JANVIER: Is that why you left the day your dad died?

No, I just felt like a walk.

JUDGE JANVIER: Okay.

You say you heard your parents when you left?

Do you remember the conversation?

More or less. It wasn’t a fight.

I couldn’t hear the words, but it wasn’t…

JUDGE JANVIER: Then you don’t know if it was a fight.

I could tell… I could hear it wasn’t a fight.

JUDGE JANVIER: Daniel, the music was loud, you were outside.

They were in her bedroom, two floors up.

How can you be sure?

I wonder if you could hear them at all.

I was just below the open window.

I know what I heard.

JUDGE JANVIER: Okay.

DANIEL: Is it over?

How can you be so sure where you were?

DANIEL: Because I touched the… gaffer tape on the woodshed.

Gaffer tape?

DANIEL: When we moved in, Dad put tape with different textures everywhere, so I could feel my way.

Right…

I don’t really need them now, but I still touch them.

Each piece feels different,

I wouldn’t get it wrong.

I touched the woodshed tape.

So I was under the window.

Okay.

(people chattering)

JUDGE JANVIER (in French): I transposed what you told me.

But I didn’t say it in French.

JUDGE JANVIER: The volume is what matters here, and French is easier for everyone.

SANDRA GENDARME: Hélène, start the music.

(“P.I.M.P.” by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band playing over speakers)

SAMUEL GENDARME: Did it go well?

Yes, nothing special.

SAMUEL GENDARME: What’s next this afternoon?

I don’t know, I’m tired. I need to work, then I’ll rest.

SAMUEL GENDARME: Not asking me?

SANDRA: I assume you’ll keep working in the attic?

JUDGE JANVIER: Stop the music.

ASSISTANT: Stop.

(music stops)

So?

Did you hear anything?

JUDGE JANVIER: Let’s go again, louder this time.

Louder? But I didn’t shout at all.

JUDGE JANVIER: The point of the reenactment is to determine a credible volume.

Vincent, I never shouted.

VINCENT: She spoke no louder. Her son says the voices were calm.

JUDGE JANVIER: That doesn’t hold up.

The music drowns them out.

VINCENT: My client didn’t shout.

She won’t shout now.

JUDGE JANVIER: Miss, please replace Ms. Voyter.

JUDGE: Come on in.

ASSISTANT: Come on in, please.

Play the music.

SANDRA GENDARME: Start the music!

(“P.I.M.P” playing over speakers)

SAMUEL GENDARME (loudly): Did it go well?

(loudly) Yes, nothing special.

What’s next this afternoon?

I don’t know, I’m tired. I need to work, then I’ll rest.

(speaks French)

JUDGE JANVIER: Go again, much louder.

SAMUEL GENDARME (louder): Was it good?

SANDRA GENDARME (louder): Yes, nothing special.

What’s next this afternoon?

I don’t know, I’m tired. I need to work, then I’ll rest.

Not asking me?

SANDRA GENDARME: I assume you’ll keep working in the attic?

SANDRA GENDARME: Stop the music.

JUDGE JANVIER: Now they hear it.

(music stops)

Good.

You do realize that was ridiculous?

JUDGE JANVIER: Spare me your comments.

DANIEL: It was calm voices, not like that.

But see, you wouldn’t have heard them.

Right?

DANIEL: Can we try one last time, starting inside?

With calm voices again.

We can.

(“P.I.M.P” playing over speakers)

(people speaking faintly in distance)

I made a mistake.

JUDGE JANVIER: Cut the music.

(music stops)

This is the tape I touched. I was inside.

I got mixed up.

JUDGE JANVIER: That’s not what you told us.

Zoé Solidor saw you leave the house after she left.

And your mom says she spoke to your dad after that.

I got mixed up.

You got mixed up.

(piano playing “Asturias (Leyenda)” in distance)

(playing with inconsistent tempo)

(playing Chopin’s “Opus 28 No. 4”)

(both stop playing)

(in English) This afternoon was hard, wasn’t it?

DANIEL (in French): I’m mad at myself.

I thought I was sure, and then…

(in English) But you didn’t lie, did you?

No.

I don’t want you to change your memories, you know.

You have to tell them exactly like you remember it.

That can never hurt me.

Give me your hand.

Oui?

(chuckles)

(Sandra laughs)

What do we do now?

Huh? Huh?

You want a drink?

Whisky?

(both laugh)

Come on.

SANDRA: Ahh…

SANDRA: Oh.

DANIEL: Oh, sorry.

SANDRA: It’s all right.

(kisses)

(in French) All I can say is,

the interrogation is in progress and may continue for a while.

REPORTER: She’s been in there for eight hours.

Is she in trouble?

Sandra Voyter is not in trouble.

She maintains her innocence, so there will be no confession.

REPORTER: You’re confident, but we’ve heard about a recording.

Is it incriminating?

You’re not listening.

She has not been indicted, so nothing is incriminating.

The socalled video is a myth so far.

We’ve had no access to it.

REPORTER: So, you confirm it’s a video?

No, I confirm nothing. I said precisely the opposite.

REPORTER: If there’s nothing new, why the summons?

I don’t know what to tell you.

We don’t understand it ourselves. Thank you.

PROSECUTOR (in French): Thank you for coming for the public prosecutor’s statement.

So, Sandra Voyter was indicted this morning at 8:30 a.m.

The investigation revealed elements that justify this decision.

Three elements in particular.

Analyses of Mr. Maleski’s blood spatter found at the couple’s domicile indicate he may have received a blunt force blow to the head when he was on the third-floor balcony.

In addition, the reenactment done three days ago brought to light a number of discrepancies.

Lastly, a file was discovered on a USB key belonging to Mr. Maleski.

All I can say about it, for now, is that it’s an audio recording of the couple, made the day before his death.

(people chattering)

(in French) As I’m trying to tell you, she can’t come sign herself because she’s held up at the courthouse.

So it’ll be me, her lawyer Vincent Renzi, coming to get the documents for her.

No, I can’t come at 11.

I can be there in 20 minutes?

Okay. Thanks, be right there.

NOUR: We have good news.

The judge this afternoon is not Da Silva, it’s Bollène.

VINCENT: Okay.

I’m off to the bank.

NOUR: And the home equity loan?

Ah, si, si, si.

Less than we hoped. They have money problems.

Outstanding credit, etcetera.

The bank will only do 50,000.

NOUR: Bail will be more than that.

(in French) Her son is a witness.

He’ll be testifying in court.

There is obviously a risk of her exerting pressure on him.

As a consequence, release on bail is not an option.

I’m asking you to place Ms. Voyter in detention pending trial.

Thank you. Over to you, Ms. Boudaoud.

Judge, how can we consider her a flight risk, when she’s responsible for her son?

That makes no sense.

With a visually impaired child?

And she’s all over the media.

Separating them could compound his trauma.

He had an accident at the age of four that damaged his sight.

He’s been traumatized, both psychologically and emotionally.

SANDRA: Oh.

REPORTER 1: Ms. Boudaoud, your reaction?

The judge’s decision is rare enough to merit praise.

A judge refusing to give in to repressive reflexes is a healthy sign, especially in such a case.

We feel the release under judicial supervision underscores the weakness of the case.

REPORTER 2: Is your client relieved?

This is a rare decision in a homicide accusation, and reads like a repudiation of Judge Janvier.

Reactions in the hallways have been intense.

I quote, “This decision is dangerous.

“The suspect will be reunited with a major witness.

It’s a real concern for the upcoming trial.”

VINCENT (in English): How could you not tell me about it?

SANDRA (in English): I had no idea he recorded it.

VINCENT: Even if he hadn’t, I mean, you had a fight the day before he died.

(car door closes)

SANDRA: That recording is not reality.

It is a part of it, maybe.

If you have an extreme moment in life, an emotional peak, and you focus on it, of course, it crushes everything.

It may seem like irrefutable proof, but actually warps everything.

It’s not reality.

It’s our voices, that’s true, but it’s not who we are.

I don’t give a fuck about what is reality, okay?

You you need to start seeing yourself the way others are going to perceive you.

A trial is not about “The Truth,” it’s about…

I didn’t know there would be a trial.

VINCENT: Well, there is.

VINCENT: Now, what will really count is, uh, who you have around you.

There’s nobody around me.

Yes, there is Daniel.

Yeah.

Daniel is important.

And didn’t you and Samuel have any… any friends, someone…

I should never have come here.

I didn’t want to, I was so happy in London.

It was him. He insisted so much.

He said there’d be no more distractions from work, it would solve our financial problems…

(dry chuckle)

I left my shithole in Germany and ended up stuck here… in his shithole.

It’s fucking absurd, isn’t it, come on?

(people chattering in French)

(Sandra and Nour, in French) Hello.

(in French) Hi, kitten.

NOUR (in French): This is Ms. Berger, appointed by the Justice Minister.

VINCENT: Bonjour.

Vincent Renzi, I work with Nour.

NOUR: She’ll be here regularly, with…

MARGE: Bonjour.

Daniel, and with you.

The frequency will be specified.

She’s here… to ensure that everything goes well.

And that no one tries to influence Daniel, or make him say things he doesn’t want to say at the trial.

The judge says you must speak French in her presence.

Right.

NOUR: That’s it.

May I speak with Daniel in private?

MARGE: Mmhmm?

VINCENT (in English): Uh, okay, so we go?

VINCENT (in French): I’ll call you.

MARGE (in French): Your mother will give us space to get acquainted.

MARGE: My name is Marge.

We’ll see each other a lot.

Do you know why I’m here?

DANIEL: Mm. Mmhmm.

Are you okay with it?

You can consider me a friend.

Or not. That’s your choice.

What do you think?

It’s okay, I don’t…

I don’t need us to be friends.

MARGE: Well, I’m here to protect your testimony.

The law sent me, and… the law can’t be someone’s friend.

Otherwise it couldn’t be someone else’s friend, and the law must be the same for everyone.

So you’re right, I can’t be your friend.

You just have to tell me if anything feels strange, if there’s a problem, I don’t know, for example with your mom, regarding the trial.

I usually discuss stuff like that with my friends.

Right.

Maybe this time you don’t really have a choice.

(deeply exhales)

DANIEL: S’il vous plaît.

SANDRA: S’il vous plaît.

DANIEL (in French): …with chocolate chips…

(Sandra repeats Daniel)

DANIEL: and raspberries…

(Sandra repeats Daniel)

DANIEL: I know it doesn’t exist, but I want it.

(Sandra laughs and repeats Daniel)

The archduchess’ socks…

(Sandra partially repeats Daniel)

SANDRA: What?

(both laugh)

DANIEL: The archduchess’ socks…

(Sandra repeats Daniel)

(church bell ringing in distance)

SANDRA (in English): He was He was one of the only persons I knew, when he walked into a room, something shifted.

The– The atmosphere changed.

And I suppose that’s charm, isn’t it?

It’s, um… I–I fell in love with his charm.

Um… I’d spent my whole life not understanding my family and friends, and then he came along, and I felt like… I understood what he was saying, the signals that he was sending me. The, um… We didn’t necessarily agree, but we had… Uh, we had things to tell each other.

(lighter pings)

And I realized it later when it was gone, so…

Mm. Don’t say it’s gone.

Just, um, focus on him, how you met.

When we met, he’d just gotten a job at a university in London, so, ahem, we moved there together.

He was a great teacher.

(laughs) He was…

He had a… He had a way of making everything sound alive and accessible, it was great.

But, um, that wasn’t really enough, heh, so deep down, what he really wanted to do was to write.

And he was working on a novel for years.

I–I watched him struggle.

It was hard.

Um…

And I came to realize that his relationship with time, with, with work, was complicated, unlike for me, for example.

VINCENT: No, stop com– Stop comparing yourself to him.

Just, uh… go back to your relationship.

SANDRA: Our relationship revolved around… intellectual stimulation, even if it meant neglecting everything else.

Everything else?

(in French) Meaning Daniel?

We should mention Daniel early on.

VINCENT (in English): The accident.

SANDRA: Okay. I didn’t know it was sent.

(laughs)

VINCENT: It’s okay?

It’s okay.

It’s just that, I didn’t know that it was so, uh, like this. Okay.

Um…

(door opens)

Everything changed after the accident.

Uh, Daniel was four.

(sighs) That day, Samuel was supposed to pick him up from school.

But he was on a roll with his writing, so he called a babysitter at the last minute and the babysitter showed up late.

And as they were crossing the street, a motorcycle hit Daniel, his optic nerve was permanently damaged.

After that, Samuel became obsessive about it, he blamed himself on a loop: If only he’d come pick him up on time…

(vocalizes)

He was overcome with guilt… and perhaps he never truly escaped that feeling.

We spent that whole year at the hospital with Daniel.

We began having financial problems… and Samuel started taking antidepressants.

Sorry, can we please keep that clean, Vincent?

I would really like to protect him, and his image, and spare Daniel.

VINCENT: We’ll try.

Okay.

But it would be like that I have to– I have to–

VINCENT: Yes.

I have to admit things.

VINCENT (stammers): You have to prepare yourself to tell everything…

(blows raspberry)

…and the challenge is to do it in French.

Okay.

(Daniel practicing Albeniz’ “Asturias (Leyenda)”)

ONE YEAR LATER

ZOE (in English): Okay…

(Sandra laughs)

ZOE: Are you really interested in what…

SANDRA: In what interests you?

Come on! Sure!

(playing over speakers) I never see anybody.

I work here all day long.

You come to see me, of course, you interest me.

(“P.I.M.P.” playing in background)

ZOE: Okay, um…

ZOE: I run.

SANDRA: Mmhmm.

It’s one of my favorite things to do.

It makes me feel high, like I’m on drugs.

SANDRA (laughs): What do you know about drugs then?

Oh, a lot…

That’s the next question.

(Zoe exhales; Sandra laughing)

ZOE: Big subject.

SANDRA: Maybe you don’t write everything down.

ZOE: No, no, surely not.

(“P.I.M.P.” restarts in the background)

SANDRA (laughs): I told you… we should’ve done this in Grenoble.

ZOE: It’s It’s fine.

I’ll write your answers down.

(playback stops)

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Bon.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): Do you confirm this is your interview with Ms. Voyter?

Yes.

She refuses to talk about herself, yet that’s why you came.

ZOE: I came to talk about her work.

Yes, yes.

Right, but by constantly changing the subject, what was she looking for, do you suppose?

ZOE: We can hear it. She asks about me.

She seemed to enjoy talking about me more than herself.

Was she inciting you to talk about yourself?

ZOE: Inciting…

No, I wouldn’t say that.

She wasn’t manipulative, just relaxed.

It felt natural. She seemed to enjoy the conversation.

You say “relaxed.” We hear her serve you wine at 1:45.

Had she been drinking before you arrived?

ZOE: I think so.

Would you say she did her utmost to make you comfortable, more than you might’ve expected when interviewing a writer?

I wouldn’t say that, no.

It seemed like Sandra… Ms. Voyter, needed to escape, to decompress.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Escape?

Oui.

Did you know that Sandra, as you call her, was bisexual?

ZOE: No.

Did you sense it?

ZOE: No.

Hearing the conversation now, with hindsight, would you call it seduction?

I felt, and she told me herself, that she didn’t have much of a social life or many chances to talk to new people.

I suppose you could call that a form of seduction.

The court needs to know if you would call it that.

Seduction means several things.

But the word seduction always implies some…

seduction.

VINCENT: The witness’s answer

is clear enough, as to what she means by seduction.

Ms. Voyter kept expressing her interest in you.

She wanted to do the interview in Grenoble.

Didn’t you sense…

VINCENT: She answered that question.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Not very clearly. Please answer, Miss Solidor.

ZOE: Could you call me Ms.?

I dislike being reduced to a marital status.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Of course. That wasn’t my intention.

(Advocate General chuckles)

I didn’t feel seduced in the moment.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: So you did wonder afterwards?

I found it atypical, nothing more.

How did you interpret the song Samuel Maleski played?

I felt tension around the noise.

Samuel Maleski imposing his presence without showing himself.

And Sandra’s reaction…

What was her reaction?

She was a bit annoyed.

And when the song started over?

He was playing it on a loop.

(laughs) Right.

Clearly… good deduction.

But how did it feel to you in the moment?

ZOE: It added to the strangeness.

I felt my presence was less… It was less relaxed.

So you clearly felt tension.

VINCENT: You’re nitpicking.

No, just clarifying.

Did you feel tension?

ZOE: Yes.

Did you feel that Mr. Maleski, by playing that music, wanted to disrupt, or interrupt, your interview?

That was my first thought, yes.

But it’s hard to read the intentions of someone you can’t see.

That’s what they pay me for!

(gallery laughs)

Sandra Voyter, you sought a connection to divert the interview.

Correct?

That’s a leading question.

There was no seduction.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: My question concerns your connection.

In the recording you’re chummy, laughing, drinking wine.

Were you seeking escape from a difficult home life by connecting with this young woman?

NOUR: Ms. Voyter did not initiate the meeting.

Please answer, Ms. Voyter.

Uh…

Yes, I found her surprising.

I hadn’t seen anyone new in a while.

And yes, I needed a drink.

This person was intelligent and nice, nothing more.

That interview was hardly enough to base a thesis on!

VINCENT: She can have a laugh with a student whose questions don’t thrill her.

Would you say the music Mr. Maleski played so aggressively indicated he was jealous of you, or Miss… Ms. Solidor? Sorry.

The music was a cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.,” a deeply misogynistic song.

It was an instrumental version.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Answer, please.

Could your husband’s song choice express his jealousy?

SANDRA: I can answer.

He often played that song. I doubt it was intentional.

He loved loud music, it relaxed him.

He had purposefully installed…

(scoffs)

(in English) How do you say “speaker,” sorry?

(Vincent translates “speaker”)

(in French) a powerful speaker… sorry.

He worked a lot, it was noisy…

Ms. Solidor says you ended the interview over that.

Is that true?

She never said that.

JUSTICE MINISTER: If the defense keeps reacting to every question, I’ll be very irritated.

Ms. Voyter, answer the question.

The music was just very loud.

And when it started over, I realized it wasn’t going to stop.

That made discussion difficult.

(stammers) So I… I preferred to stop.

And I was tired, yes.

And I felt a bit… woozy, from the wine.

Yet once alone, you didn’t ask him to explain his behavior?

As I said, it was habitual.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: No. No.

You entertaining an attractive young woman while he toiled upstairs was neither habitual, nor neutral.

He knew you liked women. You’d recently cheated.

VINCENT: That’s beside the point.

And sexist.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: I’d have said the same if she were an attractive man.

Excuse me, but this couple’s conflicts matter here.

The situation is objectively quite strange.

You say you went upstairs to your room to work and sleep.

Right below the attic with the deafening music.

Music that had made the interview impossible.

In that big house, you chose that spot?

Yes, that’s where I work. I always work in bed.

(Advocate General scoffs)

ADVOCATE GENERAL: When Samuel came…

Pardon?

…to talk to you, you didn’t complain?

Deafening music overhead is hardly normal.

I’m used to it, I don’t mind.

I wanted to work, I had my earplugs.

It was normal.

I can work in any situation.

You said you were tired, woozy from the wine.

Yet you wanted to work?

Yes.

And I did. Not for long.

A translation was due.

I wanted to finish it before resting.

As I said, I can work in any environment, any condition.

Apparently you can also rest anywhere, anytime.

So all was well with the world.

That’s all.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: No further questions.

JUDGE JANVIER (on recording): Daniel, that’s not what you told us.

Zoé Solidor saw you leave the house after she left.

And your mom says she spoke to your dad after that.

DANIEL (on recording): I got mixed up.

JUDGE: You got mixed up.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Bon.

Indeed there is a problem, Daniel.

Right?

You couldn’t be two places at once.

DANIEL: I think I went back inside.

What bothers me is how sure you were before the reenactment.

You said in your statement: “Each piece of tape feels different. I wouldn’t get it wrong.”

And: “I was just below the open window. I know what I heard.”

Then, during the reenactment, you said something else entirely.

How come?

I thought I remembered where I was, but…

Maybe the shock of what happened next got me mixed up.

VINCENT: A psychiatrist who met with Daniel says emotional shock may have altered some memories.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Of course.

Do you remember now why you came back inside?

I think I must’ve forgotten… my gloves or my phone.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: But you’re not sure?

I don’t remember exactly.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: So, you went from absolute certainty to uncertainty about your memories of that day.

VINCENT: This is very problematic.

You’re fixating on one detail in his memory to cast doubt on his whole memory.

What do you want us to believe?

That shock may have turned yelling into calm voices?

You insinuate he lied to protect his mother.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: No.

I’m merely signaling the witness’s doubts.

But we are entitled to wonder.

Daniel Maleski says he would leave when his parents fought.

Whereas on that day, he happens to go out right when an argument is likely to erupt.

Thus, he doesn’t hear a thing.

I didn’t happen to go out. I fled the music.

VINCENT: And he’s very precise about what he heard.

He’s never budged on that.

The psychiatrist and visual impairment expert both observed Daniel’s excellent aural memory.

(dry chuckle)

JUSTICE MINISTER: Clerk, please display the elements provided by Mr. Balard.

We’re listening.

EXPERT BALARD: The decisive element here is the three blood spatters on the woodshed, as indicated on the sketch.

Can we zoom in on the woodshed?

(mouse clicks)

Their shape is typical of spatter projected from high above.

They are long and narrow.

The longest measures four centimeters, which is a lot.

So, according to our tests, these spatters could only have landed here if Mr. Maleski was struck on the head while on the 3rd floor balcony.

He would have to have been leaning over the balcony, his head already quite far out when the blow was struck, for the spatter to land there.

No other explanation stands.

Did the violence of the blow make Mr. Maleski fall?

EXPERT BALARD: Most likely, it was the combination of a violent blow and a deliberate push.

Would you say the aggressor was in a state of extreme anger, to provoke a fall after administering such a violent blow?

EXPERT BALARD: A state of rage, I’d say.

Hard to imagine anything less.

Such states can increase physical strength.

(Vincent clears throat)

The guardrail is 1.2 meters high.

Comes up to about here.

Mr. Maleski was 1.82 meters tall and weighed 85 kilos.

So, pushing him over that guardrail would have required a very deliberate push, right?

The entire act was very deliberate.

Such a blow is always intentional.

What I mean by very deliberate is… very coordinated. Methodical.

Based on his weight, we can assume it was necessary to lift his legs to make him fall, which hardly suggests rage.

Rage does not exclude will.

And Mr. Maleski was probably already off-balance.

He may have fallen as much from the blow as from his own unstable position.

As I said, we have no material elements…

Except those three drops of blood.

Everything else must be speculated to explain those drops, right?

EXPERT BALARD: Okay, but the only explanation is the one I gave.

You gave us a theory, not an explanation.

Actually, two theories.

With and without a deliberate push.

According to your theories, what type of object was used?

EXPERT BALARD: A heavy object, probably in metal or dense wood, and undoubtedly with a sharp edge.

Did you examine any such objects found on the premises?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: You know no weapon was found.

They’re easily disposed of.

VINCENT: No further questions.

EXPERT BOGAERT: Two possible explanations for these three spatters.

Either they came from here, after a violent blow.

Or they resulted when the skull hit this roof ledge, approximately here.

The first hypothesis is unlikely.

It’s inconsistent with the shape and movement of the spatters.

Focusing on the second hypothesis, we must take into account the bounce caused by the impact on the roof ledge.

I’ll show you a video of our in situ tests.

There.

As you can see in our reenactment with a dummy, such an impact causes the body to turn abruptly.

And during that rollover, or spin, a fraction of a second after impact, these three spatters are projected onto this surface.

The only valid explanation is that Mr. Maleski fell from the attic window.

I believe it’s the only way he could’ve bounced off the roof, and sustained such an injury.

You use the cautious qualifier “I believe.”

So it’s your opinion.

NOUR: How do you explain the lack of DNA or trace tissue at the point of impact, or “bounce” as you call it?

I’ll show you.

This is a test we carried out under comparable conditions.

Voilà.

At the time of the incident, there was a layer of ice underneath a thick layer of snow.

We see the snow melting in acceleration.

And we can see, over the span of 1 hour and 50 minutes, that the runoff takes with it all residue embedded at the point of impact.

It ends up with the blood down here.

You call the violent blow hypothesis “improbable.”

Would you call it impossible?

No, but highly improbable.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Meaning it is possible.

As it’s possible I’ll be president someday.

(gallery murmuring)

I know the definition.

EXPERT BOGAERT: It’s improbable for a reason.

In your hypothesis, in order to explain the angle of these three spatters, we have to imagine that Mr. Maleski’s head was leaning way out, around 80 cm past the guardrail.

This implies the aggressor forced him to lean backwards over the void, shoving him against the guardrail, his entire torso pitched backwards.

The aggressor would have to be leaning very far out while holding a heavy object and striking the victim with powerful momentum.

All these elements, in addition to the defendant’s body mass, make this hypothesis highly improbable.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: But not impossible.

(gallery murmuring)

Okay. Listen, Daniel, I asked to see you because… I know you have a vested interest in this case.

I’ve allowed you to attend the trial so far.

But tomorrow will be far more complicated.

We’ll be covering some disturbing details, so I’ve decided you won’t be attending.

I think I can hear anything.

JUSTICE MINISTER: What?

I think I can hear anything.

Yeah?

I’m prepared.

JUSTICE MINISTER: You can hear it, but can you handle it?

We have a job to do.

We need to be able to work… with serenity.

I’ve never disrupted the trial.

JUSTICE MINISTER (chuckles): Disrupted…

That’s not the point.

We need to be able to evoke the facts bluntly.

We have to address everything, without fear of hurting you.

I’ve already been hurt.

And that’s why I need… to hear, so I can get past it.

JUSTICE MINISTER: The trial is not about you hearing.

It’s about establishing the truth, without being forced to censor ourselves.

(scoffs) When has anyone censored themselves?

Even if you forbid me to come, I’ll find out. I’ll know what happened from TV, radio, Internet. I’ll be obsessed.

(people moving about and settling in)

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Ms. Voyter, you claim your husband attempted suicide six months before he died. You remembered late, which is quite surprising. Can you describe the episode in detail?

SANDRA: Oui. It happened a few weeks after he stopped his medication. I found him lying on the floor… early in the morning, in his room. He’d… had a lot to drink… the night before, and passed out. He’d vomited, and in the vomit, I saw aspirin. The pills had nearly dissolved. At first I didn’t understand what it was. But later, I found… empty blister packs in the kitchen garbage. I cleaned it all up and put him in bed. Later, when he felt better, he didn’t want to discuss it. He just said he’d stopped his meds too soon.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Mm. You had separate bedrooms?

It was his office, and he usually slept there, yes.

JUSTICE MINISTER: I see.

What made you go into his room so early?

I wake up very early. He did too, sometimes. We occasionally spent that time together, talking.

JUSTICE MINISTER: At six in the morning?

Yes, if I saw the light on. We’d stopped sharing a bed, but we were very close. I would often… finish the night with him, in the office bed. I’d gone down to make coffee. I saw his door was ajar, and… I saw him lying on the floor.

JUSTICE MINISTER: No one else witnessed that?

No.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Thank you, you may sit down.

Did you know that?

DANIEL: No.

Which antidepressant did you prescribe?

JAMMAL: Escitalopram, 20 mg per day.

Was it his choice to stop?

Yes. About seven months before he died he wanted to wean off. I recommended a tapering plan with weekly check-ins.

Any suicidal ideation?

No, Samuel wasn’t depressive. I’d prescribed Escitalopram as an emotional shield to help him cope after his son’s accident.

Can sudden withdrawal from a low dose trigger a suicide attempt?

Anything’s possible in theory, but why would he have asked me to help him wean off, then stop behind my back? Makes no sense. And no mention of it in our weekly sessions?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Bon.

Have you ever had a patient commit suicide, or attempt suicide?

In French, “committing suicide” means both trying and succeeding.

It’s the action.

Thanks for the language lesson.

No patient has committed suicide.

Aside from Mr. Maleski, since we’re here to rule on the question.

In any case, we can’t consider you an expert on suicide, failed or successful.

You said your husband refused to discuss it with you, or anyone else, apparently.

Why, do you think?

SANDRA: Uh, because he was ashamed.

He had a lot of…

Um…

(in English) It’s too complicated. Can I change the language, please?

SANDRA (in French): Thanks. Um…

SANDRA (in English): Yeah, I think because he was ashamed.

(translator whispering)

Samuel had a lot of issues with shame.

(translation playing over earbud)

It’s complicated, there were… He, uh… He was, uh, frustrated with teaching in the first place, it had become a burden. And he wanted to write. Um, he’d been working on a novel for years, before and after Daniel’s accident. Um, I read everything he wrote back then, and I thought it was really good and I told him so, but from one day to another, he just… couldn’t do it anymore. He just stopped and, uh… it made him feel like a coward. He– He would belittle himself and, um… He ended up convincing himself that he could not write because of his dependency on the medication, and he wanted to free himself of that.

And he could not of course…

(Jammal speaking in French)

I’m sorry, I’m not finished.

(Jammal stops)

He could not talk about the suicide attempt because his feelings of failure were just too painful. And…

JAMMAL (in French): He never spoke of that.

…it was all a

JAMMAL: Not once.

No, he blamed you for getting him hooked on the pills from the very first session, and it drove him mad…

(in French) He and I decided together.

You can’t deny you’re at the center of this equation.

Samuel came to see me because he felt guilty, but mostly because you blamed him.

He described your behavior as quite castrating.

You made him pay for the accident by forcing him to give up what mattered most to him: writing.

You put him on an emotional rollercoaster.

On the one hand, it’s true, you encouraged him to write, wanted him to succeed.

But if he had, it would’ve been unbearable for you.

That’s the problem. It may have been subconscious.

All the material and psychological burdens resulting from the accident were his to bear.

It’s as though you said, “This is your problem. You’re responsible. Deal with it.”

“I want to free myself from that, to write.”

Material burdens were managed by Ms. Voyter as much as her husband.

We have their bank statements, receipts, etc.

I’m also talking about the emotional load.

Responsibilities, sense of purpose, anxiety.

In those areas, Samuel felt an unbearable imbalance.

So what, your patients tell you is the truth?

As a psychoanalyst, you never wondered whether Samuel Maleski might’ve needed to imagine an unbearable imbalance to prevent himself from writing?

After a while, I can tell what’s real and what isn’t.

VINCENT: Lucky you.

(in English) I’m sorry to interrupt, I’m sorry.

But… I don’t know, you, you come here, okay, with your, maybe your opinion, and you tell me who Samuel was, and what we were going through…

But what you say is just a… it is just… a little part of the whole situation, you know?

I mean, sometimes… Sometimes a couple is kind of a chaos.

And everybody is lost. No?

And sometimes we fight together and sometimes we fight alone and sometimes we fight against each other, that happens, and I think it’s possible that Samuel needed to see things the way you describe them, but… (scoffs) if– if I’d been seeing a therapist, he could stand here too and say very ugly things about Samuel.

But would those things be true?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Madame Voyter…

(in French) Did you resent your husband after your son’s accident?

(in English) We were both dealing with very different emotions at that time.

(in French) Yes or no?

(in English) Yes, for a few days, Daniel was on his watch

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): A few days?

Your son practically lost his sight…

(Sandra clears throat)

…and you only resented him for a few days?

(in English) Yeah, about his responsibility for the accident, yes, of course.

I mean, maybe, the doctor earlier said something about a tragic situation, I… I immediately refused to see it that way.

I never saw Daniel as handicapped.

You know?

I– I wanted to protect him from that perception.

Because as soon as you mark a child that way, you condemn him to not, to not… see his life as his own, whereas, he should feel that it’s his best life, because it’s the only life he’s got, it is his own.

He… He reads books, he goes on social media like any other kid, he plays the piano, he dreams, he cries, he laughs…

He’s a, he’s a very lively kid.

He’s okay!

Yeah?

So perhaps… yeah, I… I resented Samuel for projecting his own pain onto Daniel, yes.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): Thank you.

(dry chuckle)

(Sandra sniffs)

SANDRA (in English): I want to drink all night.

VINCENT (in English): Yeah, same.

I will drink, to forget.

Oh, come on!

You’re the only lawyer…

(both laughing)

VINCENT: Okay, once again.

No, you’re really the only lawyer I know.

Is it a great reason for placing your life in someone’s hands?

Is it?

No, but you’re good too, right?

VINCENT: Ah? Yeah?

Aren’t you? You’re good.

I don’t know.

Oh, come on!

(chuckles)

You look like a dog.

(both laugh)

VINCENT: Oh, I’m No, no.

What, excuse me?

A beautiful dog. You know, the…

How do you say? The… un basset?

Basset? Basset? You say that?

SANDRA: It’s funny you say that.

I can’t trust someone if I can’t put an animal’s head on them.

Really? So, what am I?

SANDRA: Um, I’m not sure yet.

What?

I don’t know.

After all this time?

SANDRA: Mmm.

You still don’t know.

Okay.

(speaks French)

(Vincent chuckles)

SANDRA: Vincent?

Sandra?

SANDRA: Do you…

Do you remember me from before?

When we first met?

Yes, I do, of course.

I don’t. What was I like?

VINCENT: You were… a bit lost, as I can remember, and… lonely, and… ambitious.

And I was hopelessly in love.

(Vincent chuckles)

Can’t remember a thing.

VINCENT: Okay. Hmm.

SANDRA: But I’m innocent.

You know that, right?

Yes.

SANDRA: I mean, really.

VINCENT: Yes.

I don’t know what you’re thinking really.

I think a lot of things I don’t tell you.

Otherwise, you’d fire me right now.

SANDRA: No, no, no, Vincent.

In your head, you’re thinking, aren’t you, because sometimes, when you look at me, just like right now, I can feel that you are judging me.

I don’t know what you think.

VINCENT: Sandra, I believe you.

I’m not judging you.

SANDRA (whispering): My love… I just want you to know one thing. I’m not… I am not that, that… I’m not that monster, you know? Everything you hear in the trial, uh, it’s just… It’s twisted, you know? And it wasn’t like that, you know. Uh, your father… Your father was my soul mate… We chose each other and I loved him…

But how do you prove that?

I just wish you would be shielded from all this, you know, that you could do…

That you could do children’s stuff, just a little bit, that you could be a child, just a bit longer, you know?

(gallery murmuring)

(bell rings)

BAILIFF (in French): All rise!

JUSTICE MINISTER: You may be seated.

We’ll begin

by calling the Chief Investigator to the bar.

(assistant whispering indistinctly in French)

ASSISTANT: He insists, it’s important.

(gallery murmuring)

(door thumps in distance)

You may be seated.

The Chief Investigator has surely arrived, so we’ll start with him.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Clerk, please cue Exhibit 31.

Bailiff, prepare to hand out the transcription of the recording to the jurors.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Voilà.

Clerk?

SANDRA (on recording): What do you expect me to do?

I mean, it’s part of the job, you have to organize yourself differently.

I’m not going to cancel.

SAMUEL: How am I supposed to get organized differently on my own?

You know we have to plan things together.

I’m not just going to leave Daniel alone because you’re off doing your own thing.

SANDRA: Leave him with Monica, what’s the big deal?

SAMUEL: Three days a week?

We’d have to pay her for that.

We can’t afford it.

SAMUEL: I need time.

Not just a few hours, I’m talking about blocking out time for myself for the whole year.

This isn’t working for me anymore.

(Samuel drinks beer, sets down bottle)

Well, organize your time differently if you want to, it’s up to you.

SAMUEL: When’s the last time you’ve helped him doing his homework?

It’s delicious.

There’s a ton of things you don’t give a shit about, but that’s the time I’m talking about.

SANDRA: Darling, the book just came out, you know very well it’s just this time–

It’s always “just this time.”

Whether you have a book out, or you’re writing, or you need space to figure out what to write…

I mean, I’ve been following your lead for years.

I can’t do anything with my time, do you understand?

It’s not my time, it’s yours!

Do I force you to teach?

Do I force you to homeschool Daniel?

No one’s forcing you.

If you want to make more time for yourself, I’ve never stopped you.

Are you fucking serious?

(plate clatters)

I cut my course load in half this year to gain more time, and it’s still not enough.

I have to finish the renovation, plus I’m dealing with everything else.

Why do you refuse to talk about it?

Why can’t you just admit that it has to do with how things are divided between us?

SANDRA: Because you are wrong, I don’t owe you any time, I do my part.

C’mon, let’s not start taking inventory here, please.

Let’s relax.

SANDRA (softly): I love you.

SANDRA: When you decided to homeschool Daniel, I told you, “Be careful,” it’s a beautiful and generous choice, and I thank you for it, but you don’t have to do it, and I told you it would force you to…

SAMUEL: What?

…cut your…

Force me to spend more time with my son?

Well, I’m glad I did.

I wouldn’t have the relationship I have with him today if I didn’t.

Yeah, the relationship that I don’t have with him is what you meant to say.

No, I didn’t say that.

No.

No.

SAMUEL: I’m saying maybe, just maybe, things are little out of balance between us, and I want you to take a look at that.

Why is this so hard to discuss?

First of all, I don’t believe in the notion of reciprocity in a couple.

It’s naive and, frankly, it’s depressing.

Yes.

And I think discussing it is a waste of time, considering the state you’re in, seriously.

All this blah, blah, blah here and more time is gone, all this time spent chitchatting could be spent in silence, doing whatever you want to do, if only you knew what it is that…

SAMUEL: I want time to start writing, just the same as you.

SANDRA: Do it. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t write just because he has a son and a house and groceries to buy.

Stop whining about your scheduling bullshit and drop this logic which comes down to casting blame on me for what you did or didn’t do.

I live with you, I plan my life around you.

If I imposed on you what you’re imposing on me, neither of us would be able to write.

SANDRA: Don’t worry about me, I always manage to write.

Great. Perfect.

SANDRA: Yeah.

If you’re so sure of yourself, adapt that’s all I’m asking.

I do adapt. I take Daniel to school.

SAMUEL: Once a week.

We have Monica on Tuesdays, c’mon.

SAMUEL: No, Sandra, don’t be dishonest.

(scoffs) I’m not, you’re the one nitpicking.

SAMUEL: I’ve given you too much too much time, too many concessions.

I want this time back and you owe it to me, be fair!

(laughs) I’m sorry, but no, are you insane?

I don’t owe you anything, really.

This is about your relationship with your son and to protect yourself and your comfort and because you got scared and you put yourself in that position.

It was your choice to come here and start this renovation.

This is your own trap.

Okay, now you’re talking about the past.

It’s your own trap No!

I could answer point by point.

I’m not taking time from you!

But fuck that!

You wasted it all on your own!

I want things to change now.

I want time to start writing again.

SANDRA: Great, go for it.

If you want my advice, go back to the one you ditched.

That’s your advice?

Go back to a book that you plundered?

Okay, now it’s plundering?

Okay. We’ve discussed it you’d given up.

(Samuel laughs sardonically)

You took the book’s best idea, how am I supposed to just “go back to it”?

Do you realize how cynical that is of you?

You can publish your own version and say it inspired me,

I’ll admit to it.

(Samuel scoffs)

If something needs to be written, someone has to write it.

SAMUEL: Oh, wow.

You know what, you have animal vision.

You pretend to be obliging, but…

Look at you, even your bullshit moral, it’s bullshit moralizing what you do.

(Samuel scoffs)

Yeah. And this, really, it’s a way for you to waste more time.

Each one in his territory.

You should be flattered that I was inspired by you.

This is life, things circulate, you know.

SAMUEL (sarcastically): Yes.

Yes?

And frankly, I wish you’d be inspired to “plunder” me someday.

You are not alone in your jungle, I live with you and you impose everything.

You impose your rhythm, your use of time, you even impose your language.

When even it comes to language, I’m the one meeting you on your turf: We… We speak English at home.

SANDRA: I’m not on my turf.

I don’t speak my mother tongue.

SAMUEL: You don’t speak mine either.

Even though we live here.

Yes, it’s a middle ground, in fact, you know.

Yes.

Because I’m not French, you’re not German, so we create a middle ground.

So nobody has to meet the other on their turf.

This is what English is for, it’s our meeting point, you can’t blame me for that.

SAMUEL: But we live in France.

That is our reality.

Yeah.

Daniel hears you speak in a language that has nothing to do with his life.

Just because you imposed this on him, just like everything else.

We’re on your turf, all the time…

Yeah, in your country.

Every single day, I have to accept that we live in your hometown.

The people that you grew up with, they look down on me whenever I don’t make the effort to smile at them.

You don’t think me living here counts as meeting you on your turf?

You never smile at anyone.

Yeah!

That’s why you love me, right?

Because if you wanted to have some stupid bitch who grins at your friends at the ski slopes, you’d have picked someone else.

(Samuel laughs sardonically)

SAMUEL: You really have no shame.

That’s your superpower,

it allows you to see no one but yourself.

I see you very clearly.

I just don’t see you as a victim.

You impose your way of living,

speaking, eating, even fucking.

I could never get you to fuck any other way.

Because…you just expect me to follow your lead.

That’s your notion of what a couple is.

I don’t believe that. I don’t…

(scoffs) I don’t have a notion.

I don’t give a fuck about couples, really.

So, you say I’m stopping you

from fucking the way you want?

Seriously?

Yes.

Be honest: Who’s been refusing to fuck since the accident?

You know damn well I meant before.

What did I ever refuse to do sexually?

Everything.

Everything, plus I have

to accept that you fuck other people.

I do not fuck other people!

(scoffs) Don’t deny it.

Once! And you cling to it

in order to suffer.

You have fucked other people!

You do this all the time.

Several times!

You make yourself the victim!

SAMUEL: I’m not a victim!

I am a man who’s been cheated on!

Plundered, and cheated on!

(deeply exhales)

SANDRA: I can live without sex,

but not forever.

SAMUEL: So what, you’re blaming me?

I’m the one frustrating you?

It’s not about who’s, who’s, who’s, who’s…

who’s blaming who or who’s frustrating who.

The frustration is there

and we’re both dealing with it, you see.

Me, personally, I refuse to rot inside,

so I find solutions, and at this point,

sex was just a question of personal hygiene.

Yes, but you impose your solutions,

which are solutions for you only.

You don’t give a shit if it hurts me and Daniel.

You leave Daniel out of the game here.

This is not about Daniel.

I do not impose anything on Daniel.

You made us live here among the goats!

You complain about the life that you chose!

You’re not a victim!

Not at all!

Your generosity conceals something dirtier and meaner.

You’re incapable of facing your ambitions,

and you resent me for it.

But I’m not the one who put you where you are.

I have nothing to do with it!

You’re not sacrificing yourself, as you say.

You choose to sit on the sidelines because you’re afraid!

Because your pride makes your head explode

before you can even come up with a little germ of an idea!

And now you wake up and you’re forty,

and you need someone to blame.

And you’re the one to blame!

You’re petrified by your own fucking standards

and your fear of failure.

This is the truth!

You’re smart, and I know you know I’m right.

And Daniel…

has nothing to do with it.

Stop it!

SAMUEL: You’re a monster.

Even Daniel says it, with his own words.

SANDRA: You take that back, you piece of shit.

You take that back.

He’s told me countless times

how hard you are, do you know that?

SANDRA: He’s telling you what you want to hear!

He can feel your guilt,

and he’s trying to reassure you.

Don’t you see that?

You’ve never stopped feeling guilty about him!

SAMUEL: You’re coldhearted. You have no pity.

SANDRA: Yes, and you have way too much for yourself.

SAMUEL: I can’t stand any more of your fucking ice!

(dishes shattering)

SAMUEL: You’re violent!

SANDRA: Yes, I am violent!

(blow lands; slap)

(objects and bodies clattering)

(slapping on clothing; Sandra whimpering)

(dishes clattering; Sandra shrieks)

(objects crash)

(Sandra grunts, pants, shrieks)

(Samuel grunting loudly)

(slapping on body)

(Samuel groaning in pain)

(Sandra exhales loudly, shrieks)

(two deep blows land; Samuel groans loudly)

(both panting)

(in French) So…

Can you tell us where you found this recording?

On a USB key belonging to the victim.

He made several dozen recordings on his cell phone.

For six months, he’d been recording moments from his life.

For a literary project, apparently.

CHIEF INVESTIGATOR: Did he transcribe all the recordings?

Yes, except this last argument.

Does your investigation link this argument to his death?

CHIEF INVESTIGATOR: Yes. They occurred 20 hours apart and have common themes.

He criticizes her infidelity.

A pretty girl comes the next day.

A literature student,

to interview Sandra Voyter about her books.

There must’ve been tension in the air.

The two women

were enjoying themselves while he worked hard upstairs.

The argument can be seen as a dress rehearsal for the next day.

How do you interpret the violent outbursts?

CHIEF INVESTIGATOR: We hear blows.

A physical altercation, the accused striking her husband.

What makes it possible for you to reach that conclusion?

She seems to be in a more intense state of rage.

(Justice Minister speaks French)

Sorry?

JUSTICE MINISTER: Speak directly to the court.

She’s clearly in a more intense state of rage.

Her shouts at the end of the recording are the last step

before the violence gets physical.

The confusion that follows is hard to analyze, but…

we hear blows to a body or a face,

and the muffled screams we hear

are Mr. Maleski’s.

You mentioned bruises on Ms. Voyter.

Show Exhibit 9, please.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: This photo was taken on the day her husband died.

How did she explain it?

She initially told us she’d bumped into a kitchen counter.

We pointed out that the bruising was around her wrist,

and looked a lot like signs of a struggle.

Later, when we played her the recording,

she admitted it had happened then,

during their brief struggle.

So you admit you lied?

SANDRA (in English): Uh, yes.

Uh, because, uh, I was afraid

that if I, if I mentioned it,

um, yeah, I knew

it would make me a suspect, and I got scared.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): And you didn’t know

he’d recorded the fight.

So you lied twice.

About the bruises, and by not mentioning the fight.

(in English, stammering) For me, it was…

It was just one lie.

Because, if I had been honest

about the bruises, I’d have mentioned the argument.

And I didn’t, um…

I didn’t want to be seen as guilty.

(in French) As no guilty person ever does.

Can we time the bruises exactly?

CHIEF INVESTIGATOR: The doctor examined her the following day.

It was too late to determine exactly when they occurred.

So it’s possible

a second fight caused the bruises on the day Mr. Maleski died.

VINCENT: What do we hear at the end of the argument?

(in English) The first sound of breaking glass is me

throwing a glass against the wall

it’s a wine glass

that stood on the table.

And after that, I, ahem,

I went over to my husband and I slapped him.

And that’s when he grabbed my wrist quite violently

and that’s the struggling we can hear.

And just after, I tried to stop him

from throwing picture frames to the floor.

But I couldn’t, so we, we hear them shattering.

(in French) Aside from that slap, did you hit him?

No.

(in English) What we hear next

is Samuel repeatedly hitting himself

in the face and in the head,

and then, uh, punching the wall.

You can still see the dent.

Um, there are a few of them around the house.

It’s not the first time he’d done that.

Uh, years ago,

he already broke, um, a finger,

uh, punching the wall during an episode.

(in French) We have photos of those dents in the wall.

Thank you. Here.

And the Xray of his fractured finger,

taken in June 2017 at the hospital in Grenoble.

Is it fair to say

your depiction of the violence is interpretive and not objective?

She repeatedly lied to us, so believing her…

Thus, this is about believing,

or not believing.

It’s a subjective opinion,

based on an ambiguous recording.

You link the argument to the day of the death.

You call it a “dress rehearsal.”

Do you have any direct proof?

The recording is direct proof of a fight.

VINCENT: I mean the day of the death.

With no witnesses or confessions, we must interpret.

In fact, this violent fight is…

phantasmal it exists only as fantasy.

You float the idea,

the prosecutor floats it,

over or around the facts,

making it omnipresent here in court, but…

We risk turning this fantasy into a reality

simply because there was indeed a fight

the day before Mr. Maleski died.

Don’t substitute the day before for the next day.

We can’t fill the blanks with a supposition,

simply because we have sounds for one and not the other.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Ms. Voyter,

did you know he’d recorded you before you were told?

SANDRA (in English): No. But I knew that

he often recorded moments of our lives.

JUSTICE MINISTER (in French): He didn’t always let you know?

What were these recordings?

(in English) Um, at first, he would mention it,

yes, but after a while he did it without us really knowing.

He recorded conversations, Daniel’s piano lessons…

and sometimes just himself, talking to himself.

And I think he did that because he wanted to gather material

to help him start writing again.

Now, with hindsight, it seems possible

that he could have provoked this fight

just to record it.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): Wait, are you implying

you’re the victim of a twisted man?

NOUR: Seriously?

He recorded her in secret. It’s a valid question.

You forget the situation is perverse.

Now the victim is on trial!

NOUR: No, but my client has a point.

Can you explain what he means by cheating,

and how he found out?

(Sandra sighs)

(in English) He went through my phone

and he discovered messages from a woman

I’d met at the beginning of that year.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): What do you mean by “met”?

(in English) It was sexual.

We slept together twice.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): Twice?

(in French) Yes.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: On the recording you said once.

(in English) It meant with just one person.

(in French) Hang on…

Samuel mentions numerous affairs in the past.

It sounds like you cheated constantly.

(in English) That’s not That’s not true.

Uh, I had a few flings, um,

the year of Daniel’s accident.

And it wasn’t cheating, because Samuel knew.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): He found out each time?

(in English) No, I told him.

It was a tricky year. Heh.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): You want us to believe he agreed to it?

(in English) Uh, I’m not saying that,

I’m just saying I was honest about it.

(in French) Interesting take on honesty.

But the year he died, you quit being honest, why?

(sighs)

(in English) Things were different…

I felt that it would hurt him too much, at that time, so…

(in French) Because you had feelings for that woman?

(in English) No, I felt it would hurt him too much

because he was fragile.

And, uh, as I said,

with her, it was just sexual.

And the person I had feelings for was Samuel.

(in French) Interesting take on feelings.

I’m trying to understand.

At first you agreed on an open relationship,

then that changed?

(in English) Uh, I don’t even know what that means, really I’m sorry.

(A.G. speaks French)

No, pardon.

(in English) No, we never had that kind of agreement,

or something like that.

After the accident, we were both

trying to feel better,

and I needed that to keep it together,

and I was honest about it.

(in French) But then you quit being honest and he held you accountable.

He doesn’t sound “fragile.”

Do you admit he was jealous?

Yes.

Had he become obsessed?

(in English) No, I don’t I don’t know.

He was hurt, that’s true.

And, uh, sometimes when we fought,

he brought it up, but he didn’t think about all the time.

According to your logic,

all of Samuel’s problems

were my fault, that’s not true.

I mean, his pain came from deeper places.

(in French) According to his logic, you’re to blame, as we heard.

What does he mean when he says his work was plundered?

(in English) No. There never was any

There wasn’t any plundering.

In the that book he abandoned, and that’s important,

there was a very interesting passage

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): A passage? How many pages?

(in English) About twenty.

(in French) Twentyseven.

(in English) Oui. Yeah, it was just

a rough outline, and I thought

the idea was brilliant.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): Can you summarize it?

NOUR: Must we enter into a literary debate?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: This isn’t literary, it’s concrete.

It’s the heart of their conflict.

I don’t know how else to present it to the jurors.

Nor do I.

Proceed.

(in English) Well, this passage

was about a guy imagining how his life would’ve been

without the accident that killed his brother.

One day, he wakes up, finds himself

in two different realities:

One where the accident is the center of his life,

and one where the accident never happened.

I told Samuel I loved it.

He had me read everything he wrote back then.

And soon after, he abandoned the whole book.

I asked him if I could use the idea and he said yes.

No.

(in French) He couldn’t have said yes, he calls it plundering.

SANDRA (in English): It’s an argument.

People exaggerate and alter facts when they argue.

(in French) It’s no exaggeration to say his book became yours: Eclipse.

(scoffs, stammers)

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Non?

(in English) All I took was this idea.

My characters are a woman and her daughter,

and I developed the story over 300 pages.

(scoffs) I can’t believe I must tell you

what is the difference between an outline and a novel.

He agreed to it, and when he read it, he told me

I I did something very different with it.

And sometimes, yes, when we argued,

it came out, because he was upset,

because he couldn’t write.

(in French) The only thing we know for sure is that “it came out.”

Did the two of you…

argue again before the time of his death?

It must’ve been very tense.

(in English) We were…

We were both really shaken.

We were both keeping to ourselves.

And Samuel, he was…

I don’t know, something was gone,

he was depleted, his energy was just gone.

ADVOCATE GENERAL (in French): In the audio,

I hear Samuel Maleski arguing strenuously.

I hear a man determined to regain control of his life.

In no way a man who has decided to give up.

Samuel’s psychiatrist said he was combative in their last sessions.

Do you kill yourself after fighting for time and selfesteem?

Do you kill yourself after pleading so fiercely and energetically

for balance and justice in your relationship? No.

That’s the main flaw in the suicide theory.

You say he seemed “depleted.”

His energy was gone.

I’d like to read from one of Ms. Voyter’s recent books, The Black House.

NOUR: We judge facts, not books.

Judge, this is a slippery slope.

In 2017, Sandra Voyter herself declared, and I quote,

“My books are linked to my life and those in it.”

Objection! She’s always said her work is fiction.

First book is her mother’s death!

Second, a rift with her father.

Third, her son’s accident, etc.

Her books are part of this trial.

Her life is in them, her relationship in particular.

Go ahead, but keep it brief.

This is a wife talking about her husband.

“He’d stopped complaining. He’d given up.

“She studied him, repulsed by his resignation.

“An idea sprouted in her mind, a seed of deliverance.

The possibility of his death.”

NOUR: Give us the context.

Later: “How does one kill?”

“What about the body? Its weight?

“She could think of nothing else.

“She saw him dead, his body a lump no longer desired.

(Nour interjects)

“The body she’d loved

was now in the way and had to go.”

NOUR: I’ll provide the context.

This is a minor character going insane

who doesn’t act on her thoughts.

A novel is not life! An author is not her characters.

But an author can express herself through her characters.

You flagged this passage.

How can we not see a link?

Is Stephen King a serial killer?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Did his wife turn up dead in suspicious circumstances?

Focus on the facts!

Mr. Renzi, I strongly advise you to calm down.

Prosecutor, I advise you to follow Mr. Renzi’s advice.

Focus on the facts.

Aside from the slap

you admitted to, did you ever hit your husband?

SANDRA: Non.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Non? Never?

SANDRA: Non.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: That was it?

Oui.

You were always a good, admirable soul,

altruistic, reasonable,

trying to save him from himself,

except on this recording? Rotten luck!

(gallery murmuring)

Any more questions for the witness?

VINCENT: I have one more, if I may.

I’d like to know if Maleski

sent the transcripts to anyone?

He sent them to a publisher friend, Paul Nachez,

slated to publish his first novel.

Email from August 9, 2017: “I’m writing again, I need your eye.

Still rough, eager to talk.”

Nachez’s response:

“Sure, send it and I’ll read it.”

Up to his death, Maleski sent four texts a week.

What was their communication like?

CHIEF INVESTIGATOR: The publisher never replied.

Apparently he was busy and the project mystified him.

His friend’s silence

must’ve hurt Mr. Maleski’s already low selfesteem.

He feels rejected.

When we read all the writing he sent,

it’s difficult to identify a storyline.

At best, it’s a project.

Maleski is a “project man.”

His first abandoned novel, the chalet…

So, since we’re being asked to mix justice and literature,

to imagine what we don’t know,

let’s imagine Samuel Maleski’s final year.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: And I’m dabbling in fantasy?

VINCENT: Give me half the time you took to read a book!

(Advocate General responds)

JUSTICE MINISTER: Get to the point.

What was Samuel Maleski’s final year like?

After accumulating debt from medical procedures in London,

he insists on returning to his hometown.

He finds a chalet to fix up and rent. They’ll pay off their debts.

He’ll quit teaching and start writing fulltime.

Renovation proves tricky. They have to take out a loan.

A vicious circle begins.

Samuel needs his teaching wages. Renovations drag on.

A year and a half later,

he feels trapped.

He’s a wounded man.

His son’s accident, his abandoned novel,

his wife publishing book after book…

He must write!

He quits the antidepressants and starts recording his life,

embarking on a kind of autofiction,

perhaps inspired by Sandra’s method.

And why not? She borrows from their lives.

She did borrow his idea.

Save it for your plea.

VINCENT: He’s running, but refuses to see that transcribing

is not writing.

His publisher friend’s silence humiliates him.

What do we hear in the March 4th fight?

The energy, the willfulness… What is it?

The energy of despair.

The final push before giving up.

In his final days, this man isn’t facing a war in his marriage.

He’s facing his own failures.

Sandra Voyter is only guilty

of succeeding where her husband failed.

Despite appearances, those were not Mr. Renzi’s closing arguments.

(gallery murmuring)

SANDRA (in English): That was not Samuel

JUSTICE MINISTER: Bon. It’s Friday evening,

we have a weekend ahead of us.

Before I adjourn, I have an announcement.

I’ve decided to call Daniel back to the bar on Monday.

He has new information of interest.

Since the witness is the defendant’s son

and lives with his mother…

(Nour whispering)

I’m asking everyone to refrain from contacting him.

Obviously, if contact is inevitable,

refrain from discussing the trial.

Ms. Berger,

you’ll stay with Daniel all weekend.

See to it these rules are respected.

I insist that no one,

absolutely no one, can ask him about his testimony.

Voilà.

Have a good weekend, get some rest.

Court is adjourned.

(people chattering and moving about)

(in French) Come get warm.

SANDRA (in French): Ready in 10!

MARGE (in French): You okay?

DANIEL (in French): I think…

I think I want to be alone.

MARGE: Okay.

MARGE: You can eat in your room.

DANIEL: No.

I want to be alone this weekend.

Before I testify.

MARGE: Alone?

Just you and me?

Is that it?

Are you sure?

We can find other solutions. It’s a big house.

DANIEL: I want her to leave.

MARGE (whispers): Okay.

MARGE: Sandra…

MARGE: I just spoke to Daniel.

He wants to be alone this weekend.

Until the end of the trial.

SANDRA: Oh.

SANDRA: Daniel?

(in English) Is Is that what you want?

Okay, is it because of what you heard today?

Because, uh… I couldn’t talk to you

about all that before, do you understand?

We just weren’t allowed to talk to you about it…

MARGE (in French): Please…

No trial talk.

(in French) I know, I’m just talking to my son.

(in English) Okay? Um, I totally understand

that you need calm, but I can just mind my own business,

keep to myself I won’t talk to you if you don’t want to.

MARGE (in French): Wait.

(in English) Can we try that?

MARGE (in French): No speaking English.

SANDRA (in French): Daniel, you can talk to me.

Couldn’t you and I discuss this, and then you decide?

MARGE: I think he’s made his decision.

Um…

(in English) Yeah, I will just get my, my stuff.

(in English) Somebody said, “Of course,

“money doesn’t make you happy,

but it’s still better to, to cry in a car than in the subway.”

(Vincent and Sandra laughing)

VINCENT (in English): Who said that?

SANDRA: I don’t know.

(both laugh)

(Sandra deeply sighs)

(sobbing)

SANDRA (in French): Sorry.

(muffled chattering outside)

(Snoop’s paws clacking on floor)

DANIEL (in French): Go on.

Eat up.

(kisses)

(rain pattering on window)

(dishes clattering in distance)

(whispers) Snoop…

(Snoop breathing lightly)

(louder) Snoop? Snoop? Snoop?

(Daniel panting and gasping)

(Snoop grunting softly)

Snoop?

Marge!

Marge, come quick, please!

Snoop?

(Daniel sobbing)

(footsteps approaching)

MARGE: What is it?

I gave him aspirin, I messed up bad.

MARGE: You gave him aspirin?

DANIEL: Yes!

MARGE: How much?

DANIEL: Eight or ten, I can’t remember.

A lot.

DANIEL: Make him vomit.

MARGE: Why’d you do that?

DANIEL: Make him vomit!

Please!

MARGE: Okay, hang on.

(Marge sighs deeply)

“Make a dog vomit.”

MARGE: Hang on.

We need saltwater. Be right back.

(Daniel continues sobbing)

(faucet running nearby)

DANIEL: He’s not moving!

Daniel, help me.

Open his mouth.

Easy. Easy.

(Marge speaking French)

MARGE: That’s right.

(Marge speaking French)

MARGE: That’s good.

(Marge speaks French)

MARGE: He’s coming around.

What’s happening?

He’s going to vomit.

(wretches)

(Marge speaks French)

(Marge vocalizes calming noises)

MARGE (whispering): That’s it.

He’ll be okay.

(Marge speaks French)

MARGE: Good dog.

(Marge speaks French)

Oh, oui.

(Marge speaks French)

MARGE: He’s okay, he’s breathing. Looking at us.

(Marge speaks French, sighs)

MARGE: Can you explain?

(Daniel sobbing)

DANIEL: You know, I…

I’d never heard about…

my dad’s suicide attempt.

I’d never heard about…

the shrink, the medicine…

the vomit and aspirin.

When my mom talked about it, I remembered something

from around that time.

One morning,

Snoop was lying on my bedroom floor.

Not moving. He smelled like vomit.

I figured he’d vomited.

I cleaned his muzzle.

I figured he’d…

I don’t know, caught a virus or something, because…

he acted strange for days.

He just slept or drank.

See? Now I’m thinking maybe he ate my dad’s vomit,

and that made him sick,

and Mom told the truth!

So my experiment with the aspirin

was to see how he’d react.

And you saw.

He slept for 14 hours. Now he’s drinking all the time.

He smells exactly the same!

Everything!

Everything’s exactly the same!

But since…

since yesterday, I’m not sure if I believe her or not.

I knew they fought, but…

It wasn’t…

I didn’t think it was that violent.

MARGE: Bon…

Your memories are all you’re sure of,

and it’s important to tell the jury.

But you’re just a witness.

DANIEL: Do you think she could’ve killed him?

(Marge sighs)

MARGE: It’s not for me to judge.

I know, but you could at least tell me!

I can’t answer that. My role is to protect you…

Fucking help me!

MARGE: Actually,

when we lack an element

to judge something, and the lack is unbearable,

all we can do is decide.

You see?

To overcome doubt, sometimes we have to…

decide to sway one way rather than the other.

Since you need to believe one thing but have two choices,

you must choose.

So you have to invent your belief?

MARGE: Yes, well… in a sense.

So that means, I’m not sure…

and you’re saying I have to pretend I’m sure?

MARGE: No.

No, I’m saying decide.

That’s different.

LITERARY CRITIC (on TV): What strikes me is

we don’t know who’s more lyrical.

The author or the character?

Both, no doubt!

Voyter plays with confusion.

Her second book goes further,

telling how her father couldn’t stand the first.

Undoubtedly true.

The rift degenerates, forcing her to leave her country.

Fearing her father’s rage, she falls prey to horrifying visions.

I found this troubling quote in an interview. She says, “My job is to cover the tracks, so fiction can destroy reality.”

LITERARY CRITIC: Yes, and what excites people about the Samuel Maleski case, is that it seems to come from one of her books. It feels like she’s already written it.

Even the doubts surrounding his death, the way he died, Voyter’s murky personality, the amoral, deceptive traits she seems to overplay…

It all reads like her books.

I don’t think it matters how he died.

The fact is, the idea of a writer killing her husband

is far more compelling than a teacher killing himself.

(turns off TV)

(playing Chopin’s “Opus 28 No. 4”)

(Daniel continues playing composition)

(piano stops)

If I imagine my mother doing it, I don’t understand.

But if I imagine my father…

I think I can understand.

JUSTICE MINISTER: Prosecutor, any questions?

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Bon…

The experiment on his dog proves nothing.

It’s not documented.

More problematic are these providential memories,

clearly jarred by what he heard during the trial.

No event can be placed convincingly on our timeline.

The timeframe of six months before Maleski’s death

comes from testimony given by the defendant herself.

I’d like to know…

Daniel…

Did you ever wonder

if the overdose your father supposedly took

might’ve resulted not from a suicide attempt,

but from an attempt by your mother to poison him?

I’m not accusing, just making a point.

So, taking these speculations,

why choose one over the other?

Your memories speak to the consequences, not the causes.

DANIEL: Yes, I thought about that, but…

I don’t see why she would’ve done it.

It feels like when we lack proof

to make us sure how something happened,

we have to look further, as the trial is doing.

When we’ve looked everywhere and still don’t understand

how the thing happened,

I think we have to ask why it happened.

Thank you, Daniel.

Are you finished?

No.

I want to say something else.

Since my dog was sick for days, Dad and I went to the vet.

Dad was really quiet in the car.

He didn’t even play music. He usually always does.

After a while, he started talking about Snoop.

He said…

DANIEL: “You know, he could get sick.

“Even die. You know that. You need to be ready.”

I didn’t want to hear that.

Snoop was doing better. He was still young.

He’d never been sick.

I told him he wasn’t going to die.

But he kept going.

He said, “You need to be aware of it. It’ll happen someday.

“And it’s no wonder Snoop gets tired.

“He’s not so young in dog years.

DANIEL: “Can you imagine his life?

“He’s not just any dog.

“He’s a great dog.

“An outstanding dog.

“Think about it. He anticipates your needs,

“foresees your movements,

“keeps you safe from danger.

“He spends his life imagining your needs,

“thinking about what you can’t see.

“Maybe he’s tired.

“Always caring for others.

“Maybe one day, he’ll be done.

That could happen.”

And I remember at the end,

he said, “One day,

“when it’s time for him to go, he’ll go.

“You won’t be able to help it. Prepare yourself, it’ll be hard.

But it won’t be the end of your life.”

He meant himself.

Now…

Now I know he meant himself.

ADVOCATE GENERAL: Bon.

I implore the jurors to bear in mind

this story is extremely subjective.

In no way does it qualify as any form of proof.

(people chattering)

Yes, Serge, we are still outside the courthouse in Grenoble.

The trial was scheduled to end on Friday,

but Sandra Voyter’s son Daniel

insisted on testifying again this morning.

The jury is still…

(Daniel playing Chopin’s “Opus 28 No. 4”)

(Snoop panting; paws clacking on floor)

(Snoop drinking water from bowl)

(Snoops paws clacking on floor)

MARGE: Daniel!

REPORTER 1 (on TV): Ms. Voyter, how do you feel…

after being acquitted?

SANDRA: Uh…

There were too many words in this trial.

I’ve nothing more to say.

I want to call my son and go home.

Obviously I thank my lawyers, who always believed in me.

REPORTER 1: Mr. Renzi, are you relieved?

VINCENT: I commend the jury…

(reporters clamoring)

who saw Sandra Voyter as she is…

(clamoring continues)

(Marge speaking indistinctly)

(reporters clamoring)

(sighs)

SANDRA (in French): Marge, it’s Sandra.

(Sandra laughs) Yes, it’s incredible, we’re relieved.

Oui.

Does Daniel want to talk to me?

Of course, he must be tired,

I understand.

Does he mind if I come home tonight?

Would he prefer tomorrow, or…

Okay.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

We’ll get some dinner, then I’ll be home. See you then.

(Sandra happily moans)

SANDRA (in English): I need a drink.

(both laugh)

(in English) Another!

(laughter)

(in English) Okay, deal!

(stammers)

Do you always… Do you…

When you win, do you always, like that?

I mean, this is happening…

VINCENT: We never win.

(laughter)

VINCENT: That’s the fucking first time

in our life we win!

No…

VINCENT: Yes. Of course!

You told me you’re a good lawyer,

and what is happening now?

(laughter)

SANDRA: No, that’s not true!

No?

VINCENT: It’s not spicy.

SANDRA: You have to try this, really.

VINCENT: Sandra, I ate too much.

YOUNG FEMALE LAWYER: I’m gonna throw up.

(in French) A quick smoke first.

Be right back.

VINCENT (in English): Okay, no, that you first, please.

(bell rings nearby)

(people chattering)

It’s not so easy, no?

No. It’s not, it’s with all the bones and…

After this, we go?

You’re ready to go home?

I can… I can drive.

I can… I can drop you off.

SANDRA: One more.

For… For the road.

(both chuckle)

VINCENT: Of course, for the driver.

VINCENT: Okay, same?

SANDRA: Mmhmm.

(sake cups clattering)

(Vincent clears throat)

VINCENT (in French): Can I just get…

two more of these? Thanks.

VINCENT (whispers): Merci, monsieur.

(Vincent speaks French)

VINCENT: Okay.

SANDRA: Okay.

(sighs) Yeah.

(sighs) Yeah.

To you.

To you.

(Vincent clears throat)

Are you all right?

(deeply inhales, exhales)

(Sandra clears throat)

Tell me.

I…

No. I just…

I thought…

I thought I’d feel relieved.

Well…

(chuckles, sniffs)

It doesn’t come right away.

(sniffs, clears throat)

(shudders) You sure?

VINCENT: I’m not sure.

(nervous laugh)

Well…

It’s just, you know, when you lose, you lose.

It’s the worst thing that can happen.

And if you win, you…

kind of expect some reward…

but there isn’t any.

VINCENT: Hmm.

It’s just…

It’s just over.

Maybe sometimes, we expect too much…

Yeah, maybe.

(Sandra sighs)

SANDRA (in French): Hi. Sorry.

(in French) He tried to wait up but fell asleep.

SANDRA: Oh, oui.

SANDRA: Okay.

(whispers in French)

MARGE (whispering): I’ll be going now.

SANDRA (whispering): Not staying over?

MARGE: No, I’ll leave you be.

SANDRA: Oh.

(both chuckle quietly)

BOTH: Goodbye.

DANIEL: I was afraid of you coming home.

Me too, I was afraid to come home.

(kisses)

(softly groans)

(sighs)

(Snoop’s paws clacking on floor)

(Sandra chuckles)

(Daniel playing Chopin’s “Opus 28 No. 4”)

(composition continues)

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