Reversal of Fortune

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons) has been convicted of attempted murder, but he still claims he is innocent and plans to process a legal appeal. Although von Bulow is very wealthy and lives a luxuriant lifestyle, he seems cold and emotionless, but this doesn’t mean he is a murderer, not by any means. His wife, Sunny (Glenn Close) is now brain dead and shows no signs of returning, which leaves Claus convicted and very displeased with the trial he was given. In an effort to increase his chances in his appeal, Claus hires law professor Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) and if anyone can help Claus, this expert is the man for the task. The concern of Dershowitz is not whether or not his client is guilty, instead whether or not he was given a fair trial. After Dershowitz looks over the case, he decides the best course of action would be to discredit the prosecution’s case, so he and some students start to crack open the issues. But can even Dershowitz manage to overturn this decision and even if von Bulow is freed, was the right verdict reached in the end?

I find Reversal of Fortune to be a more than solid film, but I think it is enhanced many times over, thanks to the blockbuster performance of Jeremy Irons. I mean, this is the kind of performance movie lovers thrive on, a powerful and very realistic turn all around. But the movie itself is also very good, so let’s not focus on just Irons and his terrific performance. This is based on the real events that surrounded Claus von Bulow’s appeal process, so the story has impact from the start, but screenwriter Nicholas Kazan ensures Alan Dershowitz’ book translates to the screen well. Although this is a dialogue driven film, it never becomes dull in the least, thanks to Kazan’s deft writing, excellent performances, and some brisk, effective editing techniques. Reversal of Fortune also allows the audience to make some decisions and that is welcome, as it lets us know the filmmakers respect our intelligence levels that much. This disc includes a terrific audio commentary track, as well as a solid basic presentation, so if you’re interested in this release, by all means give this disc a spin and see how it all unfolds.

I love the work of Jeremy Irons and as such, I am thrilled to own Reversal of Fortune on this format, as it features one of his finest overall turns. Irons never ceases to impress me with his choice in roles, as he seems to love a challenge and a lot of variety also. But no matter kind of roles he chooses, Irons is always able to deliver the goods and this turn proves to be no exception. To put it in simple terms, Irons gives the performance of his career, which won him the 1991 Oscar nod for Best Actor, as well as a legion of other honors from other ceremonies. I think Irons deserved all of that praise and more, as he nails this character and never falters even an inch, impressive work indeed. It is hard to name his very best performance, but I am comfortable in saying this turn is one of the very best, if not his best work. Other films with Irons include Dead Ringers, Lolita, Chinese Box, Damage, and The Man In The Iron Mask. The rest of the cast includes Glenn Close (Paradise Road, Fatal Attraction), Annabella Sciorra (New Rose Hotel, Cop Land), Ron Silver (The Arrival, Cutaway), and Christine Baranski (Bowfinger, Cruel Intentions).

Video: How does it look?

Reversal of Fortune is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I was surprised to see more grain that usual here, but in the end, it never lessens the experience much, so no real score knocks there. The colors seem strong here, with bright hues and flesh tones look natural as well. I saw no real errors with the black levels either, as detail is well presented and contrast seems balanced to near perfection. But I do have to lower the score a little, due to the grain and some instances of edge enhancement, although nothing to be that concerned over.

Audio: How does it sound?

I knew the included 2.0 surround mix would be conservative, so I wasn’t let down by the lack of surround presence. Aside from the musical score, this is a front based mix, but that is just how this material needs to be presented, so no complaints there. The sound effects come off well enough, while dialogue is clean and crisp, with no volume flaws to report at all. So no, this isn’t the disc to showcase your system with, but this track more than handles the needs of the material, which is what counts. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc houses some talent files and the film’s theatrical trailer, but also includes an audio commentary track. The commentary features director Barbet Schroeder and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, who offer a good overall track, but a lot of silent spaces lessen the fun here. I was taken by what their comments were when they talked, but those moments were rare, although I still recommend this track of fans of the flick.

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