The Accused

Jodie Foster burned up the screen with her Oscar-winning comeback performance as a fun-loving, somewhat uneducated and promiscuous waitress from the wrong side of the tracks who is gang-raped in a bar and demands that the men who verbally encouraged the rape be prosecuted along with the actual rapists. Foster pulls off an excruciatingly difficult role: Playing a woman less intelligent than she is, Foster never condescends or asks for special sympathy; the point of her performance is that, in the case of rape, there is no such thing as special sympathy. The script is a bit less honest than Foster is. Inspired by the infamous Big Dan’s poolroom rape in New Bedford, The Accused stacks the legal deck against this woman and then treats her ordeal as fodder for a courtroom drama — the time-honored Hollywood way of dealing with hot-button topics. The enormity of her rape takes a back seat to her victory over the spectators to the rape (in real life, as it turned out, there weren’t any). Kelly McGillis, herself a rape survivor, obviously did this movie out of noble intentions, but her performance as Foster’s attorney is consistently inexpressive. The film takes the radical stance that a woman’s sexual history has no relevance to the question of whether she was “asking for it” — all right, I suppose that is radical by Hollywood standards, but the movie preaches to the converted. Like most mainstream message movies, it makes a point that nobody in its liberal audience could argue with. The rape scene, shown in full during a climactic flashback, is long, harrowing, powerful … and questionable. Still, well worth seeing for Foster, who even transcends the fake-looking spiky wig she wears in the second half. Look for B-movie vet Leo Rossi (Halloween II, the Relentless series) as the slimeball who taunts Foster into a car accident. Director Jonathan Kaplan’s next was Immediate Family.

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