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Like the 2023 thriller Anatomy of a Fall? Then watch these three underrated movies now

ANATOMY OF A FALL - Official Trailer

Did she do it or didn’t she? That’s the central question behind Anatomy of a Fall, 2023’s most acclaimed thriller that still has everyone talking. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Justine Triet), and Best Actress (Sandra Hüller), the movie concerns the death of Samuel Maleski, who has fallen from the second story of the French chalet he shares with his blind son, Daniel, and his wife, Sandra.

The police believe Sandra pushed her husband, and as the movie progresses, the audience sees a portrait of a marriage slowly crumbling and of a woman on trial as much for her past as she is for the crime she may or may not have committed. Anatomy of a Fall is a one-of-a-kind movie, but if you’re desiring films with similar themes and that have a mysterious, impenetrable female lead, these three films should do the trick.

Swimming Pool (2003)

A woman lounges by a pool in Swimming Pool.
UGC Films

Who can resist the seductive pleasures of lounging by a pool as the sun’s warm rays pour down on you? That’s all British mystery writer Sarah Morton (Dune: Part Two‘s Charlotte Rampling) thinks about as she ventures to her publisher’s secluded French country house for an extended stay to write her next book. She’s in for a rude awakening when the publisher’s wild child daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), shatters Sarah’s tranquility with her excessive drinking and hard partying. Soon, a dead body shows up in the titular swimming pool, but it’s unclear how it got there or even if it’s real.

Like Anatomy of a Fall‘s Sandra, we can’t really trust Sarah, and that’s what makes Swimming Pool so intriguing. Because she’s a writer, Sarah is prone to take elements of her life to create a fantasy world, and it’s never clear what’s reality and what’s make-believe.  Directed by Francois Ozon, who knows how to present complicated female characters who aren’t all that likable, Swimming Pool is satisfyingly seductive and maddeningly mysterious. There’s no concrete solution to its central mystery, but the movie is such a pleasure to watch that you don’t really care.

Swimming Pool can be rented or purchased on DirecTV.

Love Crime (2010)

A woman reaches out to another in Love Crime.

Everyone can relate to having a demanding boss, but the protagonist of the French thriller Love Crime, Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier again), has one that would make Meryl Streep’s iconic Miranda Priestly a saint in comparison. As played by The English Patient actress Kristin Scott-Thomas, Christine is ruthless, demanding, and impossible to deal with. It’s no surprise when, early in the film, Christine ends up dead and Isabelle is the prime suspect.

Both Anatomy of a Fall and Love Crime feature female protagonists who are faced with a mountain of evidence that heavily suggests their guilt. We as an audience automatically trust Isabelle because she’s our guide through the films’ harsh and cold corporate world, but that doesn’t necessarily make her innocent, either. Unlike Anatomy of a Fall and Swimming Pool, Love Crime‘s ending isn’t ambiguous at all. You know who killed Christine, and you can’t help but be impressed by how they got away with it.

Love Crime is streaming for free on Tubi.

Femme Fatale (2002)

A man and a woman gaze at each other in Femme Fatale.
Warner Bros.

Talk about unreliable narrators! Brian De Palma’s built his entire career out of them, and there’s none more untrustworthy than Femme Fatale‘s Laure Ash. As played by Rebecca Romijn, Laure is a seductive jewel thief who runs afoul of some very bad men. Fate gives her a way out of her chaotic life when a woman, Lily, who looks exactly likes her, kills herself in front of Laure, allowing her to assume the dead woman’s identity and reinvent herself as the wife of an ambassador. But when a paparazzo takes her picture and deduces Lily is really Laure, all hell breaks loose.

That’s a whole lot of plot, and I only described half the movie! To properly enjoy Femme Fatale, you have to fully embrace its illogical plot twists, outrageous set pieces (the opening scene when Laure steals diamonds off a model’s nude body at the Cannes Film Festival is still a stunner), and gratuitous nudity. It’s utterly shameless, and totally a blast to watch.

Fun fact: De Palma directed the American remake of Love Crime in 2012. It’s called Passion, stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, and it should only be watched with lowered expectations.

Femme Fatale is available to watch on Hoopla.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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