We at BMAF are big fans of the Actress, Jodie Foster, and we re-watched her Oscar-winning performance in the 1988 drama film, The Accused, over the weekend.
The film is about how the legal system deals with rape, here in the UK, a footballer accused of rape is dominating the news, so this film seemed topical for a rewatch, as both cases put emphasis on the victim having to prove their case!
It is a sad state of affairs that many rapes go unreported, this can be for many reasons, and some will go down to how the victim will be judged and if he/she was ‘asking for it’ and this film looks to raise those issues.
The film starts with Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) fleeing from a brutal gang rape in the back of a bar.
Arriving at the hospital, whilst signs are clear she has been attacked, Prosecutor, Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) decides she would not be a credible witness in court.
A deal is made with the 3 rapists to get them a prison sentence, but on a reduced charge of ‘Reckless endangerment’ to protect one of the charged, Bob (Steve Antin) promising college career!
The benefits of being in a higher class system appears that Bob can be protected and indeed never show any remorse for what he did!
This leaves Sarah devastated, she has already done all she can to try and get closure, having a drastic change of hairstyle, getting rid of her stoner boyfriend, Larry (Tom O’Brien) she had hoped to see some justice and more importantly, be believed that this is not what she wanted to happen!
She immediately confronts Kathryn at her home, in front of a dinner party she is hosting, and confronting her about if she really did do the best she could do, to bring the rapists to justice, or did she go for the lower plea as an easy way out!
Kathryn, clearly now feels guilt for having judged this woman, who it has been established comes from a broken home, in a life not really going anywhere other than her waitress job and she is clearly troubled.
Yet Sarah is fully aware that a trial would put the onus on her, what she wore, how much she drank and smoked, in fact, all of her life choices will be put out in the open.
Sarah, after the decision, meets Cliff (Leo Rossi), one of the bar regulars, who was there when she was attacked, in a record shop.
Cliff mocks her by asking if she wants to play Pinball, referring to the pinball machine, which she was held down on when the attack took place.
Sarah lashes out at Cliff, releasing all her frustration, driving into his car and ends up in the hospital, where she has to dwell on the court’s decision.
Kathryn visits her in the hospital and upon leaving, sees Cliff and asks about the incident, to which he is incredibly derogatory about Sarah, saying he watched her put on a live sex show!
It is then that she accepts what her decision to get a win out of court has done for Sarah, with no one believing she was attacked, and the opinion being she got what she asked for.
Kathryn immediately goes into a montage of seeking through all the books of case law in her office and comes up with a way she can seek a better form of justice for this poor girl from the lower classes.
We know from a call from Ken (Bernie Coulson) reporting the rape, that it was encouraged by those watching in the bar’s game room!
Kathryn decides against the words of her employer to reopen the case by going after the ones in the bar, who encouraged and cheered on the brutal attack, led by Cliff.
Ken eventually agrees to testify in court, even though this will end any chance of probation for the convicted attackers, including Bob, one of his best friends, who he was at the bar with.
We then see the events that took place on the night of the brutal attack, we see Sarah’s character attacked in court; the ‘locker room’ talk she said whilst drunk with her best friend Sally (Ann Hearn) is brought up; what she was wearing; her state from drinking and smoking are also brought up; her dance with her first attacker, Danny (Woody Brown) all to make the victim have to prove she was raped and not consenting.
This scene is particularly hard to watch, as yes you will question her choices, but it is clear that what happened is in no way what she would have wanted, as first Danny, then Bob rape her, as the crowd then bay a 3rd, Kurt (Kim Kondrashoff) to continue her torture.
Jodie is incredible as Sarah, and deservedly won the Oscar, as you will feel for her and question the awful decisions she made; You will also question her friend Sally, who did little to prevent it happening; you will question the bar customers for not reporting or stopping it and those who not only attacked her, when she was clearly resisting and of course, those who cheered it on and kept it going for as long as possible.
You will also question her friend Sally, who did little to prevent it happening;you will question the bar customers for not reporting or stopping it and those who not only attacked
You will question the bar customers for not reporting or stopping it and those who not only attacked Sarah when she was clearly resisting and of course, those who cheered it on and kept it going for as long as possible.
Whilst the questions and issues raised by the film are still as important today, sadly the film is slightly dated and can feel like a TV drama at times.
It is also not helped by a very ‘synth’ heavy film score by Brad Fiedel (whose scores from films such as The Terminator and Fright Night we adore)
The film ends with stats about the low convictions of rape, and even today does not seem to have changed,which is very sad indeed!
The film was written by Tom Topor and directed by Jonathan Kaplan.
The film is rated 18 and has a run time of 1 hour and 51 minutes.
Watch the trailer here:
You can buy the film from Amazon here: