Suspense worthy of Hitchcock even though you know the ending
bensmomma | Ann Arbor, Michigan | 03/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is far more than just the salacious filmed version of the tabloid scandal documenting Claus von Bulow's conviction and appeal on charges of twice attempting to murder his fabulously wealthy wife Sunny by injecting her with insulin. Von Bulow was wholly unsympathetic character, idle so-called `Eurotrash,' widely assumed to be slam-dunk guilty, even by the legal team representing him on appeal. The team's audacious strategy to directly attack the public presumption of guilt-to actually convince the appellate court that this evil man was innocent all along-bears a captivating symmetry to the way Jeremy Irons (playing von Bulow) takes the completely unlikable character and endows him with an almost charming ambiguity. He makes the same transformation take place within the viewer that took place among his attorneys. You begin the filming completely convinced von Bulow is evil incarnate, yet Irons somehow gets under your skin and makes you wonder....just maybe....could he be innocent....no, certainly not.....but maybe?This transformation can be credited not only to Iron's Oscar-winning performance, but to Barbet Schroeder's magnificent and sensitive direction and the many other outstanding performances in the film. I loved the way the Schroeder visually contrasted the shadowy, languid, dark settings in the von Bulows' Newport mansion to the aggressive, skittish, vigorous young lawyers finding legal inspiration over games of pickup basketball played with cutthroat intensity.Glenn Close, playing Sunny von Bulow, manages not to be overshadowed by Iron's performance even though her character spends most of the film in a coma. (Imagine, stunning acting without even moving your pinkie!)In sum, even though we know the outcome from the start, the movie is a top-flight suspense movie, the best made in years. Somehow I imagine that Alfred Hitchcock himself would have been proud to call it his."
That Damn Encrusted Needle
spencer hollander | eastern Iowa | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not remember the Von Buelow case as I hadn't been born yet. However, the psychologist who worked with the Dershowitz team (T.S.) is a family friend and I have heard him talk about the case several times. Many people close to the investigation believe Von Buelow was framed for a crime a he probaly did commit. Thus, because of the tampering with evidence by a special prosecuter hired by the state, Von Buelow was likely over-charged, or undercharged, and was found not guilty because of the tampering. For example; if two guys get into a fight in a bar, and one gets hurt a little more than the other, should the lucky one be charged with Battery, Assault, or Attempted Murder? In this state, Battery is 0 - 1 year, Assault is 2-10 years, and Attempted Murder is 20-life. Quite a difference. From that perspective, who could not receive a fair trial no matter what. When the defense learned that the needle apparently used to deliver the insulin was encrusted with evaporated water this was seen as a huge flaw in the governments case as the victims skin would have removed the water when the needle was withdrawn. That is, the skin would tighten around the needle, and wipe the needle point clean. As portrayed by Jeremy Irons (Best Actor) in his role as Von Buelow, the most striking evidence against Von Buelow, was Von Buelow himself. Many of Dershowitz's students expressed personal outrage Dershowitz would even consider championing the appeal. Von Buelow made up funny jokes about his wife's condition making it harder and harder to represent him. But this film sure does have class. Jeremy Irons, as Von Buelow, delivers a performance so good, that it's worth the price of admission just to see the master actor at work. Ron Silver fills the role of the complicated Dershowitz with equal care. Best Picture of'89 (?), Reversal of Fortune keeps viewers even unfamiliar with the case glued to the story until it's inlikely end. Direction is also outstanding. A true classic."
Sure Cure For Claus-Trophobia
El Lagarto | Sandown, NH | 06/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a scene in Reversal Of Fortune where Claus von Bulow, surrounded by a gaggle of well-scrubbed Harvard law students assisting with the case, starts reciting a few of the Claus von Bulow jokes that have cropped up during the trial. "What do you call the fear of dying from an overdose of insulin --- claus - trophobia." His delivery is refined, slow, and absolutely flat, no affect. The look of bemused horror on the faces of the students summarizes all the contradictions of this movie - they simply do not understand the man they're defending.
Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for this role - he deserved two. His narration and acting in Brideshead Revisited almost made casting him as Claus von Bulow an inevitability, he seems born to this role. That he appears so natural on screen is extraordinary because von Bulow is such an odd, complex, and thoroughly detached man. His veneer is like a lobster's shell, an exoskeleton; he smokes a cigarette with the same precision and care a surgeon would reserve for slicing brain tissue. It's clear that even a trial will not reveal what makes this man tick, and in the end it doesn't matter, he's just so much fun to watch.
Having the film narrated by Sunny was genius, and Glen Close too seems to have inherited this part rather than auditioned for it. Her looks and delivery are right on point; one wonders how different life in a coma is from life inside a depression fueled by booze and pills. Alan Dershowitz, played admirably by Ron Silver, provides the junkyard dog energy that fuels the picture - everything about him is in stark contrast to the refined mansions of Rhode Island where even attempted murder must be civilized, polite, and done according to form.
Flawless production values put viewers inside the rarified atmosphere, not just wealth, but wealth that has had time to age and grow soft with decadence. Few things please us more than when things go horribly wrong for the super-rich. This film satisfies on so many levels."
Unsettling, Macabre and Devilishly Captivating
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 03/07/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Did Claus Von Bulow (Jeremy Irons) really try to kill his wife, Sunny (Glenn Close)twice? To this day, the heiress to a small fortune remains a prisoner of her own body, suspended in a coma that some say, Claus had his hand in. Perhaps we will never know the truth. The film plays no favorites, allowing for both Claus's innocence and guilt to come forward and be judged. Jeremy Iron's won his Best Actor Oscar, and rightly so, for his absolutely chilling performance. To be sure the Von Bulow's marriage was far from ideal but perhaps it wasn't as diabolically doomed as some would like to believe.
Warner Home Video has given us the film in a rather worn out looking print. Chips, scratches and dirt inherent in the original camera negative are present throughout and colors are somewhat dated. Though the picture is at times quite sharp, there is quite a bit of edge enhancement and shimmering of fine details that make for a rather mediocre viewing experience. The audio has been nicely restored and mixed to 5.1. There's also an informative commentary track to help you along with the details pertaining to Claus's case. All in all, this is a film screaming for one of Warner's fabulous 2-disc special editions and, in light of Warner's recent committment to its catalogue library of films, the prospects that this film will eventually be given its due are, I would say, quite good. Bottom line: Get it for the film, not the transfer."