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Argumentative August #15 – The Accused (1988) – Filmfunkel

Rob and I would like to once again welcome you to another review for our Argumentative August Blogathon. This next film, The Accused is being reviewed by Tim of Filmfunkel. Let’s see what he thought of this movie…

theaccused

The Accused (1988)

A Jodie Foster courtroom drama involving rape. I anticipated a battle. The rapists would put up a fight, but Jodie would fight back. She’d be brave and determined. The trial would be smart and nailbiting and – at the end – I would thrust both fists triumphantly in the air when the verdict “Guilty” was read…

Naturally I was befuddled when – 40 minutes into the 110 minute movie – all the men who’d raped Jodie’s character were behind bars each with 5-year sentences. And all this without so much as a hiccup.

Was I missing something? What could possibly take up the next hour and ten minutes?

Well, rather than imprisonment for Rape, Jodie’s lawyer (Kelly McGillis) agreed to a similar sentence, but for a crime without sexual parameters: Reckless Endangerment. Jodie was outraged. They went to jail, but not for Rape. And she never got to tell her story.

Afterwards, Foster was in the hospital. She’d rammed a truck when the driver taunted her about the rape. Not for any legal points, he was just an idiot. Nevertheless, Kelly now saw what must be done. She would sue the crowd that watched the rape and cheered it on…

Again. Was I missing something?!?

Rape is a serious crime and this is precisely where the movie becomes disappointing: it mishandles a serious crime. Once McGillis has a new legal charge to focus on, Jodie’s trauma idles in the background while Kelly fights her boss.

If I – as the viewer – am to respect the weight of these proceedings, they should not be presented as a device for McGillis to make amends to Foster. It cheapens things by making the rape secondary to their friendship.

It’s a brutal crime and the court scenes are affecting; Foster deserved the Oscar she won for this role. The performances are impressive and the characters nuanced with growth. The drama’s all here and it’s something to see. It’s just hampered by a divided narrative that should’ve provided a more meaningful context.

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