Review No. 597
“The Accused” picture is guilty of my approval by highlighting my disapproval.
Director — Jonathan Kaplan
Producers — Stanley R. Jaffe
Screenplay — Tom Topor
Kelly McGillis — A. D. A. Kathryn Murphy
Jodie Foster — Sarah Tobias
Bernie Coulson — Ken Joyce
Ann Hearn — Sally Fraser
Distributor — Paramount Pictures
Release Date — October 14, 1988 (USA)
Language — English
Country — Canada
Running Time — 1 hour, 51 minutes
MPAA — — ADULT SITUATIONS, NUDITY, PROFANITY, RAPE/SEXUAL ABUSE AND VIOLENCE.
THE ACCUSED WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 31, 2013.
The Accused is intended for those who strongly care about the subject matter. It almost wants to aggravate more than entertain, which is dangerous, but brave. This is the account of everything a woman faces after being raped by three men. I, personally, couldn’t stand everything after the fact, but the movie had an emotional effect on me. Not because I was put to see everything through the victim’s eyes, but because the film’s point is one I’ll automatically side with. I wish I could leave it at this, but I’m not sure I even make sense at this point.
What I’m getting at is The Accused is not for everyone. If you need a focused script to be moved, this isn’t for you. The movie is flawed, and although one of the script’s earliest hardhits on the emotion is in reasserting the criminal, the idea is abandoned quickly. Writer Tom Topor seems to say, “We’ll piss off anyone who agrees with the victim, leave the resounding effect, and then the rest of the movie will be about the three accused men.” Admittedly, the victim herself turns the screenplay into something else. Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her role here, and she deserved it. She’s entirely convincing, and she makes a barely watchable recount out of her description of the incident at court. She leads into a flashback to the actual incident, and in this makes it even more difficult to watch.
Though her story, with all its emotional depth, is pushed aside by Kelly McGillis’s character, whose interest relies entirely on Foster. She’s strong in her delivery, though we can’t help but feel that we saw too little of her. It’s about her investigation, and so much attention is paid to Foster, who is preferable; then again, the script has no apparent focus. The ending, moreover, doesn’t do more for her character than turn a successful turnout into poetry.
As far as style, half of it’s artist-defined, which may be way The Accused is so engaging. Jonathan Kaplan has some neat subtleties in his directorial technique. The other half of the style is decade-defined. Hair, makeup, cheese; jump cuts are almost like a first-time cinematographer’s instructional VHS, marked with hold music. Though even with this half, the movie is still better than any modern crime procedural. It’s effective, all right, so it lives on righteously. It isn’t a classic, however, by any standards.