Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Nicholas Kazan
Based on the book By: Alan Dershowitz
Cinematography By: Luciano Tovoli
Editor: Lee Percy
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Ron Silver, Glenn Close, Annabella Sciorra, Uta Hagen, Christine Baranski, Julie Hagerty, Fisher Stevens, Jack Gilpin, Felicity Huffman, Bill Camp, Lisa Gay Hamilton
Alan Dershowitz a brilliant professor of law is hired by wealthy socialite Claus von Bulow to attempt to overturn his two convictions for attempted murder of his extremely wealthy wife. Based on a true story the film concentrates not on the trial like other legal thrillers, but on the preparatory work that Dershowitz and his students put in as they attempt to disprove the prosecution’s case and achieve the Reversal of Fortune of the title.
I remember Jeremy Irons hosted SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE after being nominated for an Oscar for this film. That was honestly where my Initial interest for the film came from. That grew over the years. NBC even showed it on television. Where I only watched sorts of it and it seemed boring and by the book. Then finally In 2004 I Watched it completely for the first time and instantly fell For the film.
This film is truly a gem that was lauded when it was first released and has fallen more into obscurity these days though it was nominated for many oscars and introduced me for one to the acting of Jeremy Irons. An actor’s who I have a lot of respect for, for his versatility and sense of fun he Brings when he is performing.
This movie works on many levels. Yes it is more of a docudrama that could ah e easily been a movie of the week. Though it was made for the big screen and feels more enriched for it. As it also has a cast with above the line talent. Who turn this film into a tour de force.
It also works as a dark black comedy unfortunately based in a true story. About the lives of the rich and privileged.
The films gives the supposed testimony of Sunny Von Bulow who is in a coma forever. As she takes us through the tale beginning with her romance and seduction by her husband.
It’s just miraculous that this film was made with such polish and flourish and takes a serious case and is allowed to have fun with it to a degree. Yet never feels quite like a stale procedural. Sure Jeremy Irons seems to be playing a caricature at first but also creates a memorable character. Who is a charming unrepentant snob, but who is not easily forgotten.
Ron Silver disappears into his portrayal of Alan Dershowitz whose main concern is not whether his clients is innocent or guilty really. His only interest is defending him.
The film tends to focus more on him and his team of students as they debate the case and even a few admit they don’t like the client but he still deserves a fair trial.
The film truly doesn’t offer any answers to the mystery that lies within it. Though it hints at it’s Own beliefs. Even in dramatic scenes there is a flair of surreal imagery and truly gives you a peak into the decadent lives of the filthy rich and how their world revolves.
It measures itself quite equally when it comes to it’s ingredients and delivers a potent mix that you can’t exactly identify but everything goes well with one another.
Though the film can be considered outdated a bit by now. It is always engaging in a sense. Especially if you include the performance of Glenn Close as the doomed Sunny. Pretty much a damsel in distress waiting to be swept off of her feet and then seem to turn daffy like a brat in the relationship. Though she meets and gets her European Prince Charming. Though she truly comes alive in the role and is believable.
It still keeps me captivated. As it is a life long mystery that will never be answered and that everyone will have an opinion on after.