Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/Canada, 1988. Paramount Pictures, Jaffe-Lansing, Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Tom Topor. Cinematography by Ralf D. Bode. Produced by Sherry Lansing, Stanley R. Jaffe. Music by Brad Fiedel. Production Design by Richard Wilcox. Costume Design by Trish Keating. Film Editing by O. Nicholas Brown, Gerald B. Greenberg. Academy Awards 1988. Golden Globe Awards 1988. National Board of Review Awards 1988. New York Film Critics Awards 1988.
This impressive drama deals with an important issue and features excellent acting from all of its performers, which well overcome the times it feels. Jodie Foster plays a woman who gets viciously raped by three men at a local college student hangout while the rest of the guys hanging out in the back room where it happens cheer them on. Her jaded lawyer (Kelly McGillis) makes a deal with the prosecution that basically gives the rapists a slap on the wrist, prompting Foster’s fury at having been treated as badly by the legal system as she was by the guys in the bar. McGillis, feeling responsible for the young woman, decides to reopen the case and go after the other men who were there that night, the ones who cheered the crime on and encouraged the perpetrators. It’s a risky trial to take to court, an unprecedented issue that warrants a lot of investigation into Foster’s life and activities that she might not necessarily want. The screenplay cleverly opens up a controversial discussion: is it fair to say that a woman who dresses provocatively, dances as such and enjoys some substance abuse in a room full of horny college students is just begging for trouble? Or is rape a crime no matter what the circumstances, and are there just certain things that people don’t deserve no matter how they’re behaving? It’s frightening that these questions even need to be asked, but the sad reality we experience when watching this film is that there are those who feel they do. Then there is the personal clash between these two women at the centre of this story, because neither of them is sure at first if they can trust each other through this experience.