The Accused

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The Accused (1988)

Directed by Jonathan Kaplan

Written by Tom Topor

Starring: Kelly McGillis, Jodie Foster, Carmen Argenziano

Sarah (Foster) was brutally raped by a small group of men while others looked on. In addition to the rapists, prosecutor Kathryn Murphy (McGillis) is trying to bring the onlookers to justice for their part in the crime.

This film has retained a unique and grim sense of relevance despite being 30 years old. The script was written by Tom Topor (Nuts), and Jonathan Kaplan (Love Field) directed the film. The stars of this one include Kelly McGillis (Top Gun), Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs), and Carmen Argenziano (Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)).

This script delivers a story that attempts to be honest about the horror of the subject matter it addresses. Tom Topor’s script gets right to the point, setting up the rest of the story with a number of gritty opening sequences. The central characters are all typical versions of characters seen both before and after this film was produced. Unfortunately, this movie remains very typical in many ways. There is little in the story that really breaks the mold. The victim is an underdog with her share of issues. The hero is a gritty lawyer facing an uphill battle. The offenders are one-dimensional figures that provide little to the story. The most intense moments of the film come in the portrayal of the original crime. These moments of the movie are intense and uncomfortable. The rest of this one misses an opportunity to be better by choosing a predictable path. There aren’t any real twists in this one, and the payoffs are weak. While there is still an undeniable impact that comes with the story, it just doesn’t provide the consistency a good drama deserves.

The acting in this film is a mixed bag of very good performances and very forgettable ones. The weaker performances come from all of the fringe characters in the movie. Their work seems like something you might see in something made for television. Some of them dramatically overplay their parts, while others seem to add little or nothing to the film. Somewhere in the middle is the work of Carmen Argenziano. His performance is solid, but he seems to try a little too hard in the later moments of the film. Kelly McGillis does a little better with her role. Throughout the movie she shows a lot of restraint with moments that could’ve easily become melodramatic. She also carries some of the weaker performers in the film. The true star of this one is Jodie Foster. Despite weaker material, she delivers an intense performance that foreshadows the future successes of her career. She’s able to express the vulnerability of her character, as well as an inner-strength. Her work is good enough to elevate the material in almost every moment she’s on the screen. Foster would win an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in the film.

This one is a mostly competently produced movie. The sound and visuals are fine. There weren’t any real risks taken in making this one. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a watchable film that doesn’t ever distract from the story. The biggest issue with the production is Brad Fiedel’s (True Lies) score. The music is bad enough to be distracting at times. It’s mainly synthesized music that adds little to the tone of the movie.

This is an interesting movie because of the subject matter. Despite some glaring issues, it addresses a very important social issue. The story also asks a number of surprisingly deep questions. This one was also very personal for one of the stars. Kelly McGillis acknowledged that her own rape was a motivator for her participation in the project. Stronger writing and a few twists might have helped this one to hold up better. Even with the issues, this is one that fans of Foster should make sure to see. Her performance is the best element of the movie. This might be one to check out if you’re looking for a dark social drama. Keep in mind that it’s a gritty movie that doesn’t look away from the brutality of the crime. I give this one 2 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 111 Minutes

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