The Accused

“I bet’cha if I went to law school and I didn’t live in some god damn dump then I would be good enough” “I understand how you feel, I did my best” “You under- You don’t understand how I feel! I’m standing there with my pants down, and my crotch hung out for the world to see and three guys are stickin’ it to me, and a bunch of other guys are yelling and clapping and you’re standing there and telling me that’s the best you can do. If that’s the best you can do then your best sucks! Now I don’t know what you got for selling me out, but I sure as shit hope it’s worth it!” Jodie Foster stars in an Oscar winning performance in 1988’s courtroom drama, The Accused. As rape victim Sarah Tobias, Foster is a blue collar girl who likes to drink, smoke pot, and have fun. She’s not well educated and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of social skills, but she knows that what she’s been through isn’t right. Along with her lawyer, Kathryn Murphy, played by Kelly McGillis, Foster’s Tobias stands up for what’s right and seeks justice and dignity from the courts. The film begins with a long look at the exterior of a bar where this rape occurred. The shot is finally interrupted by Sarah Tobias running towards the camera, a ripped shirt, underwear half on, an obvious victim of rape or sexual assault. After being examined, we are introduced to Kathryn Murphy the prosecutor of the case. She’s convinced that there is not enough evidence to win this case and it’s something she struggles with as she wants to win every case she takes on. After a while, she decides to send the men to jail under a lesser crime, one that’s not sexually based. Sarah, a young woman who wouldn’t do well in a courtroom setting, is outraged by this lesser sentence and confronts Murphy at her home. In a montage scene befitting Rocky, Murphy studies the law in an effort to find another way to make Sarah’s assailants pay. Eventually she comes up with prosecuting the men that were clapping and cheering during the rape. Murphy trusts Sarah enough to put her on the stand which appeals to the jury. Finally we have a witness step forward and during his testimony, we are thrust back to the past where we re-live the night of the rape. It’s a difficult scene to watch and one that is not quickly cut to avoid being upsetting. The camera is placed in ways that really accentuate the events in that bar. The final scene uses a terrific performance by McGillis and Foster to punctuate a fantastic film. Jodie Foster is an interesting actress. She does big budget films that I don’t really enjoy, then she does smaller projects, that I don’t get around to seeing. Once in a while, I’ll catch a Foster performance and I’ll realize just how fantastic of an actress she is. Obviously in Silence of the Lambs she’s brilliant, but this film I would rate her performance just as good if not slightly better than her other Oscar winner. Here she has to play so many aspects of this one character. She’s playing a woman who is uneducated, working as a waitress, living with a drug dealer in a trailer, and really doesn’t have much going for her. It’s after the rape that she stands up for herself in life and begins to get more of what she wants out of life. On top of this, she’s doing an accent and attitude that I would describe as being from New Jersey, which ups the difficulty. At times this is a tough film to watch but it really is a fantastic movie and one that I was really surprised by.

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