In 1981, fabulously wealthy American heiress, Sunny von Bulow, collapsed in a coma on the bathroom floor of her opulent mansion. She remains in that coma today. Her husband Claus, a European aristocrat, was found guilty of her attempted murder but, hiring Professor Alan Dershowitz, a famous and distinguished legal expert, to appeal against sentence, the charges were subsequently dropped.
Based on Dershowitz's published account of the case, Reversal Of Fortune is, in one respect, infuriating; the only person in the world who actually knows whether or not he is guilty is Claus Von Bulow himself. This major reservation aside, Barbel Schroeder here delivers an intriguing and absorbing movie, reeking of class and quite packed with powerhouse performances.
From the opening credits over a continuous pan of Rhode Island mini-palaces, we immediately know we are in the world of the mega-rich and overpriv-ileged. Borrowing from Sunset Boulevard, the screenplay has the comatose Sunny herself plunging us into the narrative from her hospital bed, with Glenn Close expertly revealing the sad mess of this tragic woman's life. Irons, meanwhile, using an initially disturbingly odd - but doubtless accurately researched accent makes of Von Bulow an elegant and enigmatic figure, alternately beguiling and loathsome, while Silver's electrically charged, ambitious Jewish liberal proves conclusively that he has now graduated to major screen status.
The literate script manages some humour, and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent, from relative newcomer Annabella Sciorra, to veteran Broadway actress Uta Hagen in a rare screen appearance as Sunny's loyal housekeeper.
This is a movie rich in moral ambiguities and one which should thoroughly please voyeurs and detective story enthusiasts alike.