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Reversal of Fortune (1990)

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Watching this again for the first time in decades has been a very...disorienting experience. 

Mostly because I am so much more aware of who Dershowitz is than I was at 24, or whenever the film came out. The fact that Dershowitz is a producer as well, makes me see it much more as self-promotion, and the moral superiority doesn't age well. I'm thinking particularly of:

  • His justification that he is only taking the case to fund his pro-bono work for African-Americans on Death row.
  • His comment to Sonny that they have won an important legal victory but that *morally* Sonny is on his own.
  • His professorial take down of the blonde student who expresses moral outrage by saying perhaps things are a "little" more complicated than her moral indignation. (He nowhere seems to express that he views the issues as complicated or that he struggles with them.
  • The treatment of women also hasn't aged well. There's some back story that one of the young women (played by Annabella Sciorra) used to live with him? So he's a great guy because he defends minorities, but we'll all just look past collecting young female students or former students? (I see from his bio that he was divorced in 84 when the trial went on but married his second wife two years later. His son, portrayed in the film seems younger than the 21 years of age he would have been. 

    So it's a Dershowtiz valentine to himself. That said,

    There's something about Barbet Schroeder's direction that I find almost hypnotic. Schroeder starred in one of Rohmer's Six Moral Tales and produced another one, and his filmography is...weird and varied to say the least. I see that he also directed the documentary about Idi Amin, so perhaps he is drawn to portraits of narcisstic or self-absorbed men. Thinking about that makes me realize that Jeremy Irons is so freaking good that he convinced me for 30 years that the film was about *Klaus.* But maybe Schroeder conceived it as a contrast between two different types of self-absorbed narcissists?

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