Tuesday, January 31, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 7: The Accused

Movie: The Accused
Year: 1989
Nominations:Best Actress - Jodie Foster
Wins/Snubs: Jodie Foster won her first Oscar for this.  Although looking back, her competition that year is ridiculous and any of them deserved to win: Melanie Griffith - Working Girl, Glenn Close - Dangerous Liaisons, Sigourney Weaver - Gorillas in the Mist, Meryl Streep - A Cry in the Dark.  I have seen all of these movies now, and given that The Accused isn't a great film overall, I'd give it to either Close or Streep for those performances.  

The Accused is fairly straightforward.  Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is gang raped in a bar - the opening scene is her running out of the bar in distress while we overhear someone calling 911 to report the problem.  However, Sarah makes a terrible witness (she's got a record, and a reputation for drinking and smoking pot), and the district attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis, in her last big role) gives up on prosecuting and cuts a deal.  This pissed Sarah off, and when she's eventually harassed by one of the men who cheered on the rape, Sarah convinces Kathryn to go after them all and she does.  

Foster does do a great job playing a trashy character that its hard to fight for, until you see her lose it when she's taunted by the onlooker at the grocery store who recognizes her.  That's just when the movie gets you on her side.  However, McGillis is really really unlikeable.  When I first started watching, I couldn't figure out why they nominated Foster for Leading Actress and not McGillis since they have nearly equal screen time and importance to the story.  But since McGillis wouldn't win anything, it made sense.  The movie does contain one of the most difficult scenes to watch, the entire rape from start to finish - extremely uncomfortable.  I can also see why the movie wasn't nominated for anything, but in its day, it was just at the beginning of hearing the phrase "No means No" when it comes to women and agreeing to sex as the phrase.  You can see how people watching this movie in 1988 would look at Foster's Sarah Tobias and say "she was asking for it".  I know these concepts aren't gone, but I do remember hearing these things as a teen and trying to figure out what she was asking for.  So while the movie is dated and not particularly well made, it had its place in our cultural history.


Ryan McNeil said...

You're bang-on when you say that this one hasn't aged all that well, but as you mention - it's a snapshot of another time before "no means no" was an inarguable ground rule.

Context - it can be a killer, right?

Great post Jess.

Jess said...

Thanks! It was an interesting movie because it's dated both in the clothes (my mom wore those big shouldered business suits) and in the attitudes.