The Accused (1988)

Never going to be able to play pinball the same way ever again now.

After being raped by three men in a local bar, Sarah (Jodie Foster), enraged at the light sentence her attackers receive, persuades attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) to press charges against the men who cheered on the attack. But it won’t be easy: Sarah has a shady past that could be used against her in court.

There have been many films to deal with the subject of rape but never before 1988 was there one that dealt with it in such a straight-up and frank way. I mean we practically see rape happen in almost every horror/thriller but never do we get to see what happens when that racist is finally poned.

The film is based off of a real-life case that took place in 1983 and the film never loses that raw edge and feel about the whole subject of rape. Rape is obviously something that’s not good no matter who the person may be but this flick shows all of the damage it can do to one person and how they deal with it on a day-to-day basis. It’s a good and important story that deserves to be told but I still feel like it deserved a better flick.

The problem with all of this is though, the film never gave me any type of emotion to feel for the story or characters the whole time, probably because of its made-for-TV movie feel. We know how this case is going to go down right from the start and even though I may have been a bit intrigued by the courtroom drama scenes, they never really showed anything new or exciting that I haven’t seen done before in other dramas of this nature. There is also never any real insight or emotional depth to come along with these proceedings and as much as the film would like to say that it’s getting inside the mind of a person who’s just been rape, it really is just showing a person frustrated over the fact that the dudes who were there to watch the rape, never really did anything in the first place.

The other major problem with this flick is that you can’t really believe a lot of what is going on, with these evil characters and the actual rape itself. I’m not very sure that a whole bar of men, would just stand there and cheer on as three dudes constantly rape a chick into oblivion. Isn’t there any dude that would just stand up and say “what the eff are you doing!?!”? Of course there are people out there in the world who are this sick, but doesn’t anybody know what a rape looks like and know that it is a crime? Take it for granted though, the flick is based on a true story so it could have definitely happened that way but for some odd reason, it comes off as more exaggerated and over-blown than realistic in ways.

However, where this film’s strength really lies in is its amazing performance from Jodie Foster. Foster plays this character Sarah who is not too entirely likable. She’s white-trash, a whore, and dirty but somehow Foster gets us to actually care about her character and her story as well. You can tell that she feels pain from this rape that had happened to her and you know that she doesn’t mean any harm to anyone or anything, which is why it’s very easy to back her up and just about every chance Foster gets, she really lets loose with her raw energy built inside. The whole speech that she gives about what happened to her is definitely the best part of the flick and definitely the one moment that assured her that she was definitely going to get that Oscar.

Kelly McGillis is also fine as Kathryn, handling a lot of the court stuff pretty well but her character still seems underdevoloped in some way. She starts off as this strong-minded career woman that only wants to do the right thing but then she all of a sudden starts to turn into this woman who is all about fighting for a cause and woman’s rights. I’m not saying that this couldn’t have happened to anybody who would have taken a case like this but the film never really focuses on her enough to actually give her the chance to really show her character for what she is.

Consensus: The Accused features an amazing performance from Foster which rises this above the whole made-for-TV movie feel, but in the end it’s predictable, a little over-the-top, and something that you can’t really get emotionally involved with no matter how hard the film tries.



  1. Wow a surprisingly low rating. I’m shocked. This film gave me more nighmares than any other film I’ve ever watched. I think I woke up in the night three times after watching it. Foster is brilliant and it has a very powerful message. I found it disturbing and unforgettable.

  2. I also found the movie powerful and unforgettable, and remember it well despite having seen it in a theater when it came out. That you cannot see the rape as something the people in the bar would refuse to do anything to stop is perhaps more of a statement about your own upbringing or moral conscience. The reality is that these types of incidents happen all the time every single day.

    But look at the words you used to describe the victim. Yes, she may be white trash, but although she could well be described as a tramp, she is not a whore. A whore is a prostitute. However, even prostitutes get raped, you know. A married woman can get raped by her husband, too. Really bad things happen to women all the time and society is often apt to look the other way. Just like those people in the bar, both men and women, looked away and said nothing.

  3. Great review. I agree that the film lacks emotional depth somewhat. Perhaps this is because the film is so ‘legalistic’ somewhat, focusing on the hurdles which must be overcome to get the rape case successfully to court, rather than on emotions of the main character. In terms of disturbance, however, I found this film a difficult watch, but not really nightmarish. ‘Sleepers’ for me would come on top on that rating, as it deals with child abuse. I also think that the film portrays the events quite realistically. I think It is very naive to think that something like that ( rape scene in ‘The Accused’) can never happen. It is a more frequent occurrence that most people would believe. I think the effect of alcohol and the feeling of absolute power when one is part of a large crowd in rape cases should never be underestimated.

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