Found this one a bit troubling - and not in an entirely good way. First off we have a bucolic opening sequence with an equally bucolic rendition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons: Summer concerto. Then, off camera, is an argument. Were not meant to find firm footing here. Why?
Initially I found being in the protagonist's POV annoying if for no other reason than I found it somewhat hard to accept him doing what what he was doing. But clearly that was needed to set up the rest of the film, for better or worse, and I got over it so to speak.
But then there's a shot where he's mulling over what he's done and his recollections of a woman. Wasn't it the morning after? And yet the trees above the characters are devoid of foliage. Summer isn't summer? Or is this about mood? The lack of something?
Found the trial interesting, as is often the case, less for what actually happens and more for seeing something quite different than what we expect in a trial in the US. While there are mechanisms for jurors to ask questions, it's nothing like is portrayed in this film. Very fascinating. (And I'm inclined to accept the film's veracity: didn't get the feeling of Hollywood mendacity here.)
But it's the third act that pacts the punches and holds a few. I'm still not sure what to think. First thought was that ours is not the only time to struggle with "what is truth?" Clearly. But there seemed to be something more than just the facts as presented, something the filmmaker(s) wanted to say, about truth, in France a mere two decades after, when French citizens and their German neighbors were living with what they had done, what they had accepted, what they had hid, what they denied. Or as Shakespeare put it more eloquently:
Out damned spot! Out I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.
Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1
Beautifully shot, as I read on another box cover years ago, "in glorious black and white." This choice, while possibly financial, seems to add a starkness and creates opportunities like the aforementioned reflection in a drink glass. The artistry is omnipresent and worthy of respect. Acting and design all work well, but there's just something about the story that doesn't entirely sit right with me after a first viewing. Gave it 8 out of 10.