Reversal of Fortune turns the sensational Claus von Bulow case into a riveting film. The story [from the book by Alan Dershowitz] of the Newport society figure’s trial, conviction and acquittal on appeal for the attempted murder of his wealthy wife is presented here in an absorbing, complex mosaic.
Jeremy Irons gives a memorable performance as the inscrutable European blueblood emigre. Cast in perfect apposition is Ron Silver, seizing with dynamic gusto the role of a career as von Bulow’s passionately idealistic but streetwise defense attorney, Harvard law professor Dershowitz.
Glenn Close is typically excellent in the smaller but pivotal role of Sunny von Bulow, who narrates the story and appears in flashbacks.
On one level, Reversal of Fortune deals with the impossibility of knowing the truth about the unknowable. Was von Bulow guilty of injecting his wife with a near-fatal dose of insulin? Was he framed by Sunny’s maid (Uta Hagen) or family? Or did the profoundly unhappy woman attempt suicide?
On other levels, it is a finely detailed manners study of the superwealthy, a drama of conflicting principles and values and an engrossing legal detective story.
1990: Best Actor (Jeremy Irons).
Nominations: Best Director, Adapted Screenplay