Reversal of Fortune (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Reversal of Fortune (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Reversal of Fortune Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

This film is a darkly humorous, determinedly ambiguous adaptation of Alan Dershowitz's book about his successful legal appeal of Claus von Bulow's conviction for the attempted murder of his wife, Martha "Sunny" von Bulow. Sunny (Glenn Close) -- who remains in a "persistent vegetative state" resulting from a suspicious injection of insulin -- narrates the film, summarizing the first murder trial, which ended with Claus (Jeremy Irons) convicted and released on bail pending appeal. Claus approaches Harvard Law professor Dershowitz (Ron Silver) to handle the case. Working with a small group of law students recruited from his classes, Dershowitz presents sufficient new evidence to cast doubt as to Claus' guilt and the veracity of the star witness, her maid. Jeremy Irons' extraordinary, Oscar-winning performance dominates the film. He plays the role of Claus with a alternatively pompous, aloof snobbishness and an engagingly enigmatic, kinky, sly humor. Barbet Schroeder was also nominated for an Academy Award for his extraordinary, off-beat, direction of this sophisticated, exceptionally intelligent legal drama. Reversal of Fortune with its sharp, witty, Oscar-nominated screenplay by Nicholas Kazan is unusual in its understanding that legal guilt and moral culpability are not the same thing -- making for an unusually provocative tragicomedy of bad manners and bad behavior among the rich.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Nicholas Kazan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 13, 2001
Warner Home Video


Jeremy Irons
as Claus von Bülow
Ron Silver
as Professor Alan Dersh...
Uta Hagen
as Maria
Fisher Stevens
as David Marriott
Christine Baranski
as Andrea Reynolds
Julie Hagerty
as Alexandra Isles
Sarah Fearon
as Ala von Auersberg
Jad Mager
as Alexander von Auersb...
Glenn Close
as Sunny von Bülow
Jack Gilpin
as Peter MacIntosh
Stephen Mailer
as Elon Dershowitz
Michael Wikes
as Steve Famiglietti
Thomas Dorff
as Brillhoffer
Leo Leyden
as Englishman
Malachy McCourt
as Englishman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Reversal of Fortune

Critic Reviews for Reversal of Fortune

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (9)

It is a finely detailed manners study of the superwealthy, a drama of conflicting principles and values and an engrossing legal detective story.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

What it all adds up to is something the film never quite seems prepared to address, but this is a fascinating look at all the secondary questions.

Full Review… | February 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This is a strange, unsatisfactory mixture of satire and docudrama which engages the mind and leaves the emotions intact.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

There is a high degree of sometimes shocking intelligence running through Reversal of Fortune.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Reversal of Fortune is an often chilly movie, but the chill cuts to the bone.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Irons founds his adroit performance, from cadaverous countenance to crooked pinky, on strangled passion and noblesse oblige. And astonishingly, he manages to make old Claus oddly pathetic, even sympathetic.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Reversal of Fortune

A passable TV drama that fails to focus on one specific genre, and offers a mixture of thriller, mystery & a bit of courtroom drama. The conventional dramatic execution limits its effectiveness. Not having much expectations probably saved me the miseries, and made it a passable fare.

Edit: In retrospect, I feel it'd be justifiable to rate it 3/5 for what it is.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

To spite the fact that this is a film based on real information regarding real events and people...this film comes across like one of those ridiculous, late night soap / dramas from the 80's. (Think Dynasty or Dallas).

Everyone comes across as over-the-top caricatures. But who knows...perhaps these are accurate portrayals of the people they are meant to represent?

In any case, it is a horrible and tragic story made all the more painful by these hammy, scenery chewing performances.

Robert C

Super Reviewer

After Fisher Stevens' first scene, Jim said, "This movie is off the hook," and we couldn't even figure out what "off the hook" meant in this case, but it certainly is. From the campy yet seemingly true portrayal of moneyed debauchery, to Glenn Close's beyond-the-coma narration, to Jeremy Irons' deep-voiced, sometimes comical, accent. "Sawhny..." Good performances with a decent commentary on legality versus morality but slightly slow in parts.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

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