Reversal of Fortune
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.