The Accused is a dry case study of a rape incident whose only impact comes from the sobering crime itself, not the dramatic treatment.
Inspired by, but not based upon the 1983 barroom pooltable gang rape in New Bedford, Mass, screenplay is designed to pose questions about the thin line between sexual provocation and assault, seduction and force, and observation of and participation in a crime.
Pic begins with a bloodied, dishevelled Jodie Foster stumbling out of a roadhouse. A young patron calls the police to report an incident, and in short order three men plead guilty to the reduced charge of ‘reckless endangerment’ (the film’s original title) rather than rape.
All this takes place without the participation of the victim, who becomes furious with her lawyer (Kelly McGillis) when she learns via television of the legal deal. McGillis abruptly decides to pursue the matter much further by prosecuting some of the onlookers in the bar for criminal solicitation.
Foster is edgy and spunky but McGillis’ role, as conceived, is a joke, since she exists only as a stick figure with no psychology or background offered up over the course of nearly two hours.
With British Columbia standing in for Washington State, pic looks only okay.
1988: Best Actress (Jodie Foster)