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The Morning After: Aug. 20, 2012

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I've seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I'll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I'll post individual comments here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Reversal of Fortune


Barbet Schroeder's film about the famous trial of wealthy socialite Sunny Von Bulow's husband Claus (Jeremy Irons), accused of attempting to murder her in order to gain access to her immense fortune. Convicted in the case, Claus seeks out law professor Alan Durshowitz (Silver) to prove him innocent.

The film is told partially in flashback and partially from the viewpoint of the comatose Sunny (Glenn Close), neither precisely revealing who the culprit is, though room is left in the imagination that two outcomes are possible: Claus is innocent or he is guilty. Schroeder uses a fairly conventional style of filmmaking to portray the events of the film, but skillfully leads the audience through the twisting narrative of Nicholas Kazan's screenplay based on Durshowitz's own book on the subject. The trio that headlines the film, Irons, Close and Silver all deliver gifted performances here with Irons' Oscar winning work a clear standout.

Irons portrays the concerned, yet oily Von Bulow with charm and duplicity, convincing the audience that in spite of his villainous carriage that he could actually have been framed by overzealous children wanting to keep him away from their mother's money. Unlike the traditional performance that wins Best Actor at the Oscars, Irons' work is subdued, subtle and subversive. He never has an explosive, fiery monologue to send the audience reeling, but he brilliantly navigates the performance, always hiding his emotions just below the surface, scratching their way through in brief bits of melancholy and sorrow.

I can't remember a better performance out of Silver whose Durshowitz is drawn as a caricature who still feels vital thanks to Silver, although I wouldn't have considered him Oscar nomination worthy. Close, on the other hand, was. Her omission seems unfathomable in retrospect. Although she spends a good portion of the film portraying a woman in a vegetative state, the scenes where she lives are the most intense and passionate of the entire film. She conveys loneliness, depression and sadness perfectly. In the few scenes where she gets to show her softer, happier side, there's still a measure of solitude in those moments helping the audience believe that she could easily have attempted to take her own life.

The film is a compelling exploration of guilt and innocence as glimpsed through the eyes of the law. Here, we have a case that seems so open-and-shut that as it's picked apart by clever legal students, begins to crumble until truth seems irrelevant. Even in the closing narration, Sunny states that no one may ever know the truth and that it's up to the individual to make that decision and that is key to the film's overall success.

I've also posted a long overdue review of Beginners:

Beginners

Click here to read the review

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