The Accused

Year: 1988
Studio: Paramount
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Producer: Sherry Lansing
Cast: Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis
Hollywood's definitive comment on sexual assault. For a long time it looked like it was going to just be a dirtier version of Flashdance, with a very 80s aesthetic and style that we saw in a thousand courtroom thrillers from the period, but you do get to see the grotesque event in question in glory as full as censors would probably have allowed at the time.

The sort of woman most people would consider 'asked for it', hard-drinking trailer trash Sarah (Foster) reports a gang rape at a local bar, and the only person who takes it halfway seriously is prosecutor Kathryn (Kelly McGillis).

Even then, Kathryn is more interested in chalking up a victory thanks to politicking and plea-bargaining with the defence team. It's only when Sarah asserts her rage at not even being asked her side of the story that Kathryn sees the error of her ways. She's seen Sarah as a statistic too, a poster girl for how not to dress, what bars not to go to and what sort of men not to flirt with.

With the rapists behind bars for a short and pathetic sentence, Kathryn sees her only redemption as going after the men who cajoled the rapists on. Sarah considers them complicit in the crime although the law doesn't recognise it, and Kathryn goes on a crusade to convict them, one that ostracises her at work and threatens to tarnish her record.

Produced by Sherry Lansing, soon to be head of the studio at the time, it seems to have that certain air of many Hollywood 'issue' movies, preaching ham-fistedly on a worthy subject that needs a lot more understanding and investigating, but it mostly treats it with the humility and seriousness the subject deserves.

Star McGillis was the victim of a rape at age 15 when she was an aspiring actress in New York, prompting her interest in the role.

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