Barbet Schroeder’s Reversal of Fortune: The Punchline is ‘Insulin’


Before Claus and Sunny were the names of two Baudelaire children in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, they were the names of a certain real life couple: Mr. and Mrs. von Bülow, of Newport, Rhode Island. Hollywood’s version of their true-crime story will screen tonight as part of BAMcinematek’s ongoing Barbet Schroeder series. Reversal of Fortune (1990) represents a career highpoint for leads Jeremy Irons (Claus) and Glenn Close (Sunny), not to mention a Jewfro-ed Ron Silver, who plays reviled Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. When Sunny lapses into a coma due to an insulin overdose and Claus is accused of attempting to murder her for the money, Dershowitz steps in to defend the man everybody believes is guilty. Irons’s Claus is a remorseless bastard, the black heart of this American Gothic show. His chilly delivery of the punchline to a ball-and-chain joke—”What do you get for the wife who has everything?”—usually brings the house down. . . to silence.—Benjamin Strong