The Accused (1988) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

The Accused (1988) is the story of a rape. The victim is Jodi Foster - playing a trailer trash toughie with a record who is known to drink too much and smoke the occasional joint. After a fight with her worthless live-in boyfriend, she goes to the local bar to "take the edges off' and talk to her best friend who works there. She flirts a little, and goes into the game room, plays a little pinball, and then dances crotch to crotch with a guy. The guy grabs her, rapes her right there on a pinball machine while others hold her down. Most of the crowd eggs him on, and two more her also rape her. The second of the three is a fraternity man at a local college. His best friend is there, and finally has had enough. He makes an anonymous call to 911.

Foster bolts and runs, and a trucker takes her to the hospital. She is bruised and scratched and has obviously been recently penetrated, so the medical reports substantiate her claim of rape, however, the tests also show that she was legally drunk, and that she had smoked pot. Hot shot deputy DA Kelly McGillis is assigned to her case. McGillis believes she was raped, but with Foster's lack of credibility as a witness, and the absence of any other witnesses, she accepts a plea bargain and puts the three men away for 2 to 5 on aggravated assault. This means parole in 9 months, and no sex crime on their records. McGillis is pleased with herself until she realizes what she has done to Foster's reputation.


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To set matters right, McGillis decides to go after the people who cheered and encouraged during the rape on charges of criminal solicitation, which was abusing the law to apply to what happened. The only chance she had was to find the 911 caller, and get him to testify. During his detailed testimony, we see the rape in graphic detail, during which time we get many looks at Foster's breasts. The scene is very strong, but needed to be in order to convince the audience of the facts.

This movie explores several obvious themes. It is clear that just because Foster is white trash doesn't mean that she wasn't criminally raped. It also shows that the friendship she eventually develops with McGillis, and the respect she earns from her, enabling her to rise above her previous level. It repeats something that most of us know, which is that the victim of the rape becomes persecuted by the courts and the press, while the rapists are protected.

What is new ground here is the idea that the cheering onlookers were also guilty of a felony, making the point in the strongest possible way that verbal sexual harassment in not a laughing manor. This film is at least a B, due to great subject matter, a superb performance from Foster, a good performance from McGillis, and several strong performances from accused men.  

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen format, 1.85

Scoop's comments: the thing I like best about this movie is that the resisted the temptation to dumb it down and make the Jodie Foster character some kind of a saint. She was a white-trash doper and a drunk, not very bright, and practically did a striptease in the bar before she was raped.

By doing this, the film was able to stay focused on the main issue - which was that the same law protects Tanya Harding and Mother Teresa. Both have the right to say "no" when she doesn't wants to continue. The legal issues were also covered in a remarkably fair way, with both sides presented in some depth, and the actual incident shown after we had formed some opinions about the truth, thus inviting us to participate emotionally.

If this film had been dumbed-down and filmed with lesser actors, it could have been an ABC afterschool special, but Jodie and the director didn't allow that, and it works quite well, despite a soap opera plot and some excessively one-dimensional minor characters.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, 3.5/5

  • Jodie Foster won the Oscar for Best Actress for her amazing performance.

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: $32 million gross



IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B (Tuna) to C+ (Scoop).

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