Reversal of Fortune

Reversal of Fortune

Glenn Close
Director: Barbet Schroeder Cast: Glenn Close
Glenn Close
, Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons
, Ron Silver
Ron Silver
Barbet Schroeder

Blu-ray (Wide Screen)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


This film is a darkly humorous, determinedly ambiguous adaptation of Alan Dershowitz's book about his successful legal appeal of Claus von Bulow's conviction for the attempted murder of his wife, Martha "Sunny" von Bulow. Sunny (Glenn Close) -- who remains in a "persistent vegetative state" resulting from a suspicious injection of insulin -- narrates the film, summarizing the first murder trial, which ended with Claus (Jeremy Irons) convicted and released on bail pending appeal. Claus approaches Harvard Law professor Dershowitz (Ron Silver) to handle the case. Working with a small group of law students recruited from his classes, Dershowitz presents sufficient new evidence to cast doubt as to Claus' guilt and the veracity of the star witness, her maid. Jeremy Irons' extraordinary, Oscar-winning performance dominates the film. He plays the role of Claus with a alternatively pompous, aloof snobbishness and an engagingly enigmatic, kinky, sly humor. Barbet Schroeder was also nominated for an Academy Award for his extraordinary, off-beat, direction of this sophisticated, exceptionally intelligent legal drama. Reversal of Fortune with its sharp, witty, Oscar-nominated screenplay by Nicholas Kazan is unusual in its understanding that legal guilt and moral culpability are not the same thing -- making for an unusually provocative tragicomedy of bad manners and bad behavior among the rich.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse

Painstakingly detailed yet tantalizing in its ambiguity, Reversal of Fortune dramatizes the real-life case of Claus von Bulow. Von Bulow (portrayed by Jeremy Irons in an Academy Award-winning performance) is an aristocratic European emigré who was convicted of the attempted murder of his wife, New York socialite Sunny von Bulow (Glenn Close), who plunged into a coma from which she has never awakened. Director Barbet Schroeder (Single White Female) doesn't concern himself overmuch with the original trial but instead lavishes his attentions on the appeal of von Bulow's conviction, an effort led by idealistic attorney Alan Dershowitz (superbly impersonated by Ron Silver). Irons portrays von Bulow as an inscrutable snob for whom his defenders have little affection. Nonetheless, Dershowitz and his impassioned legal team chip away at the prosecution's flawed case, and the chronicling of their efforts becomes the crux of Reversal's narrative. Flashbacks illuminate some of the events leading up to Sunny's coma-inducing overdose, and Close is riveting in the small but pivotal role of the doomed socialite. But while Schroeder's film accurately portrays the outcome of Dershowitz's appeal, it leaves many questions unanswered -- and the suave, icy von Bulow is just as much an enigma at the fade-out as he was at the fade-in. Part courtroom thriller, part intellectual exercise, Reversal of Fortune is guaranteed to grip viewers from its opening moments and hold them spellbound through the closing credits. Fascinating, too, is Schroeder's and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan's detailed discussion of their film and the real-life case in the audio commentary on the DVD.

All Movie Guide

Thanks to Jeremy Irons' performance, Reversal of Fortune is less a conventional murder mystery than a trenchant social satire, a scathing study of a morally corrupt upper class. Working from a book by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, writer Nicholas Kazan gives the film a peculiar, witty tone, avoiding obvious social commentary. Barbet Schroeder's direction is solid, but the film owes its success more to the outstanding performances of its leads. Apart from Irons' Oscar-winning work, Ron Silver and Glenn Close are also terrific as Dershowitz and the spaced-out Sunny von Bulow. Schroeder was previously best known as a producer of some of the best films of the French New Wave.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/13/2020
UPC: 0883929722600
Original Release: 1990
Rating: R
Source: Warner Archives
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time: 1:52:00
Sales rank: 7,797

Customer Reviews