Reversal of Fortune | Chicago Reader

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If there's something a bit dilettantish about the career of former ace producer Barbet Schroeder (The Marquise of O, Celine and Julie Go Boating, The American Friend) as a director (More, Maitresse, Barfly), it can't be denied that he's been steadily picking up skill and craft. This 1990 drama about the celebrated case of Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons)—the European aristocrat in Newport who may or may not have been responsible for his wife Sunny (Glenn Close) winding up in a permanent coma—is an extremely confident piece of filmmaking, with an able script by Nicholas Kazan, based on Alan Dershowitz's nonfiction book about the case, and a terrific performance by Irons. Sunny's periodically narrating the plot from her coma adds to the unresolved ambiguity, and the juxtaposition of liberal Jewish attorney Dershowitz (well played by Ron Silver) and von Bulow working together on the latter's defense makes for some engagingly offbeat drama, with some interesting insights into the legal process. What it all adds up to is something the film never quite seems prepared to address, but this is a fascinating look at all the secondary questions.

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