Reversal of Fortune

Claus von Bülow's trial in 1982 for the attempted murder of his wealthy wife Sunny had it all: sex, drugs, nobility and betrayal. She had lapsed into an irreversible coma and her husband was found guilty; but an appeal, in which his case was handled by Alan Dershowitz (from whose book the film is adapted), led to acquittal. Reversal of Fortune intersperses flashbacks of the von Bülow marriage with a reconstruction of legal investigations for the second trial. Under Schroeder's direction, the social comparisons are by no means subtle; and a detached approach to characterisation is most acute in the case of comatose Sunny (Close) -'brain dead, body never better' - whose disembodied voice provides commentary. That said, the performances from Irons (as von Bülow) and Silver (Dershowitz) hit the right pitch within a rather difficult scenario. But this is a strange, unsatisfactory mixture of satire and docudrama which engages the mind and leaves the emotions intact.

Release details

Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Screenwriter: Nicholas Kazan
Cast: Ron Silver
Jack Gilpin
Glenn Close
Uta Hagen
Jeremy Irons
Christine Baranski
Annabella Sciorra
Fisher Stevens
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