(Dir. Barbet Schroeder) (1990)
A contemplative, but playful account of a cause célèbre. Millionairess Sunny von Bülow’s vegetative state persisted from 1980 to 2008 (when she died, aged 76). The cause of this coma was alleged to be an injection of insulin by her second husband, Claus von Bülow, a classicist and former assistant to oil king J. Paul Getty.
Bülow was convicted by a jury in 1982 and this film, based on the book by his appellate counsel, Alan Dershowitz,concentrates on the relationship between legal team and client during the appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, seeking to reverse the convictions of attempted murder. The structure is intriguing, with theories, strategies and machinations presented (satisfyingly) on multiple levels and through numerous shifts of time. Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, as the strange, rich, unhappy couple, are superb, as is Ron Silver as Dershowitz. “Two packs of Vantage, please. Oh yes, and a vial of insulin.”