Tuesday, February 14, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 21: Reversal of Fortune

Movie: Reversal of Fortune
Year: 1991
Nominations: Best Actor - Jeremy Irons, Best Director - Barbet Schroeder, Best Adapted Screenplay - Nicholas Kazan

Wins/Snubs: Jeremy Irons won, along with Kathy Bates in Misery, thankfully defeating Kevin Costner from taking a sweep of the awards with Dances with Wolves which took Picture and Director.  I really like Wolves, but I can see that it's definitely not Best Picture material compared with Goodfellas or even Awakenings, though I'd still be a proud chick-flick cinephile if Ghost had won.

A Scene from The Lion King:

Young Simba: Hey Uncle Scar, when I'm King, what'll that make you? 
Scar: A monkey's uncle. 
Young Simba: [laughs] You're so weird. 
Scar: You have no idea.

Okay, I know it's odd that this was my favorite moment in this otherwise good (if confusing) film, but Jeremy Irons always seems so stiff, but the fact that he could parody his Oscar winning role in an animated film makes me like him even more.  It turns out the last two lines of the above quote are directly from Reversal of Fortune.  
Sunny von Bulow (Glenn Close) lies in a brain-dead coma and narrates the events that got her there - or at least some of them.  Her second husband, Claus von Bulow (Irons) has been accused of her attempted murder and his case is up on appeal.   He hires Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver - Dershowitz wrote the original material on which the movie is based) to defend him.  Sadly, due to his odd, cold, European demeanor no one really likes Claus and its impossible to figure out whether he did it or not.  Certainly Dershowitz and his law students (including a very young Felicity Huffman) spend a lot of time trying to find ways to prove he did or didn't do it.  

We do get to see Sunny in some of her alive moments and her interaction with Claus (and the affairs they both have) and Glenn Close does a good job making it clear why Claus would want to kill her.  She's mean, paranoid (with reason) and basically lived a rich, snobby life and wanted Claus' title.  They really don't seem to like each other, but Claus might have killed her, so he is entitled to a rigorous defense and we get to see Dershowitz attempt to do that even though he thinks Claus probably did it.  
The film feels really dated - it could be the title, the accents, and the posh New England "estates" they live on that makes it feel like an oddly out of place.  Overall, I did enjoy watching the legal drama unfold, and watching Jeremy Irons really get a chance to star in a strong, complex role where you don't know if you want to hate him is a pretty good afternoon.  Now I've seen both of the winners from 1991 - blind spot filled.

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