Based on the book by Alan Dershowitz, Reversal of Fortune tells the story of social climber Claus Von Bulow (Jeremy Irons), who was convicted on two counts of attempting to murder his wife Sunny (Glenn Close) with an overdose of insulin. Dershowitz (Ron Silver) agrees to represent him for the retrial. Theories about Von Bulow abound; Was it a husband tired of having his wealthy wife in the way of his happiness or a was it a wife too depressed to cope with her life? Fascinating and provocative, these are the basic questions this 1990 legal thriller explores.
Out on a million dollars bail put up by Claus’ former employer J. Paul Getty, Von Bulow is disliked by a public who never doubted his guilt. Nonetheless, Dershowitz and his hard-working student team can reverse Claus’ conviction in a Rhode Island appeals court as he is acquitted due to lack of proof.
Director Barbet Schroeder clearly has fun mocking the rich with satire concerning their hedonism, superficiality and altogether dull mansion lifestyle, as he unfavorably compared Claus and his empty society companions to the idealistic, hardworking passion of Dershowitz and his students. The literate screenplay by Nicholas Kazan leaves Claus’ innocence or guilt ambiguous, making Reversal of Fortune best viewed as a black comedy.
Terrific performances by Irons (who won a Best Actor Oscar for his work) and Silver are standouts here. Polar opposites, they give the film a classy look. However, too much of the real story is left out for the film to be viewed as anything more than entertainment.
As a side note, Sunny died in 2008, after more than twenty-eight years in a coma. Claus returned to England in 1991.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Warner Archive has delivered a beautiful 1080p transfer. Their are plenty of details and a nice layer of grain that adds to the depth and detail of the image. Blacks appear strong and natural throughout. Colors have a simple, natural look. The image has no apparent artifacts.
The DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack is impressive. The sound is full, with good deep tones. The mix allows effects and the score to move with ease around the two front channels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Director Barbet Schroeder and Screenwriter Nicholas Kazan
- Trailer (HD, 1:57)
Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Movie title: Reversal of Fortune
Duration: 112 min
Director(s): Barbet Schroeder
Actor(s): Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons , Ron Silver , Annabella Sciorra, Uta Hagen, Fisher Stevens
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery