Reversal of Fortune [1990]

One of the most intriguing criminal trials of the 1980s involved Claus von Bülow, who was accused of sending his rich wife Sunny into a permanent coma with an overdose of insulin. Director Barbet Schroeder, working from Nicholas Kazan's evocative, darkly humorous script, turns the story into both a look at the lives of rich folks with too much time on their hands and a whodunit, as lawyer Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) prepares to defend von Bülow (Jeremy Irons) in court. Irons won an Oscar for his spooky, knowing performance, which hints at depths of degeneracy without ever putting a dent in a veneer of bored elegance. The contrast between the hard-charging Dershowitz and his eager-beaver Harvard law students and the eternally languid von Bülow adds unexpected humor. --Marshall Fine

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