Plot: Sarah (Jodie Foster) has just been raped by three men at a local bar, but her ordeal is just starting, as she now faces the social and legal battles in the wake of her sexual assault. She is assigned a skilled lawyer in Kathryn (Kelly McGillis), but her case is shaky at best, despite a tavern filled with witnesses. No one wants to talk about that night and a lot of scrutiny of Sarah’s personal life comes up, such as her sexual past and her general reputation. She is also harassed often, even by her own boyfriend and while she is broken down by all the abuse, she refuses to back down. Kathryn tries to push back against an outdated, unfair system that seems to want to put the victim on trial, but will justice be served?
Entertainment Value: The Accused is a well crafted, powerful movie that deals in familiar topics, but ones that remain relevant even decades later. Despite so much social progress over the years, rape victims are still often put on trial, more or less, as their private lives and lifestyle choices are examined, as if those relate in any way to being sexually assaulted. In The Accused, we watch as Sarah endures the horror of rape, then feels victimized over and again, as she is harassed, taunted, and attacked, to the point even she begins to believe what people say about her. Her relationship with Kathryn is crucial to the narrative, as Sarah struggles to express herself and Kathryn faces moral and ethical queries of her own, in her legal concerns. I think this is a sincere attempt to draw attention to some important social issues, but I know some have questioned the need to include the rape sequence. But I think seeing the horrific, violent ordeal Sarah suffered is important, especially since we can see the ugliness and antisocial behavior of so many of the others in the background. As the movie shines a light on the culpability of the crowd that allowed and even encouraged the assault, I think the scene is crucial to the experience. I think The Accused is a great movie that never feels like exploitation and raises some crucial social questions.
The rape scene is brutal and intense, despite minimal nudity and non graphic sexual content, as the tone and atmosphere is so toxic. The scene also doesn’t solely focus on the assault, as it shows us how everyone present reacted to the situation, from the rapists to Sarah to the bystanders. Sarah’s shirt is torn off and her breasts are revealed, while the bare asses of some of the rapists can be seen. This is a haunting, horrific sequence that more than bolsters the movie’s assertion that those who encourage or incite violence are dangerous and should be culpable. Sarah has some injuries from the attack, but the movie has no graphic or gratuitous bloodshed. The movie is well written and serious in tone, so there’s not much as far as wild or outlandish dialogue, but Leo Rossi’s role is a source of some nasty, memorable lines. He taunts Sarah before, during, and after her rape and just a horrible person, even asking her if she wants to play pinball after she was just assaulted on a pinball machine. Sarah also has a lot of attitude, but has issues expressing herself, which leads to some memorable exchanges. The tone is serious, as I said, so not much craziness, save Rossi’s over the top scumbag role.
Overall Insanity: 1/10