Reversal of Fortune is another list film that seemed largely superfluous, and thus I had a hard time getting started with it. I’m certainly glad, and more than a little relieved, that the film exceeded my meager expectations. Now, I’m not sure I could argue this film’s inclusion on the list, but I think I can make a decent argument that not only is it a good film, but it is one that, ultimately, ends up being worth your time, should you decide to put the two hours into it.
The film is based on the true legal trial surrounding the appeal process of Claus von Bulow’s initial guilty verdict in the charges of attempted murder of his wife Sunny by an injection of insulin. Sunny, in a coma, is played by Glenn Close, and is entirely a role of flashback and voiceover, which was a nice little framing device. Claus, played by Jeremy Irons in one of the slickest and stuffiest performances I’ve ever seen, is an aloof, arrogant, and haughty man, who always seems to be looking down on those around him as often as he could refuse to care any more about those same people. Irons’ performance here is the highlight; he won the Academy Award for Best actor for this, and while it’s not an over-the-top amazing award-worthy performance, I can still see how he ended up winning. The other highlight, and this was the unexpected one for me, was how the film was constructed. There is no implication towards or away from the idea that Claus is guilty or innocent, so the film ends up spending most of its time conjecturing the particulars, debating and considering them like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, until ultimately the legal case towards von Bulow’s innocence just barely peeks over the line of satisfactory. It was quite engaging, and it was helped along by the convincing performance by Ron Silver as Claus’ lawyer, on whose report the film is based on.
Man, was I happy that this was as easy a watch as it ended up to be. I thought the film would be largely a non-eventful affair, and what I got instead was a snappy legal drama with some very excellent central performances. Again, though, I’m not sure I could muster a strong case towards this one’s addition to the list (though it did get culled in the recent 10th edition to make way for the slew of new entries), but I was very pleased with what I’d seen. Hopefully, there’s still some unexpected surprises (or rather causes for relief) like this one left on the list. This was a nice reminder to not take so much stock in my initial assessment of a film, and it was a good one to have.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10