Monday, July 2, 2012

Jodie Foster in The Accused

Jodie Foster received her second Oscar nomination and first Oscar for playing Sarah Tobias, a rape victim in  the typical 80s movie, The Accused. After the nominations were announced, the Best Actress race seemed to be a tough one, which was among three actresses: Great Glenn, Melanie and Jodie. We have already speculated about why Jodie won and there are many possible explanations, I suppose it was mostly down to the fact that she was a previously Oscar nominated former child star who turned out to be a great actress as an adult as well, plus, that she was playing a very showy, baity part. However, I('d like to) think that her win was seriously threatened by Great Glenn.

The Accused as a movie is so... eighties. My goodness, the music, the story, Kelly McGillis, it's just simply too eighties to be ignored. I guess it would have made an Emmy-winning tv movie in 1993, but as a feature film it's quite shallow, poorly directed and one-dimensional. I suppose it was effective at the time, but nowadays it just seems too dated and corny. It really doesn't tell much about the real horror of rape, it really doesn't emphasise the fact that Jodie's character is a victim (in the right way). All in all, the movie refuses to give up the #1 purpuse of entertaining the audience and that's why we get all those cheesy monologues from McGillis etc.  

However, you can always hope that Jodie Foster, being one of the greatest, most intelligent actresses, gives some life even to a rather shallow plot. As a child actress, Jodie impressed people with her fierce, intelligent, radiant personality and she succesfully saved that to her later roles. Although I'm kind of sad that she seems to be cast in the same part over and over again nowadays, we just cannot deny her versatility and greatness. Obviously, when she was cast as Sarah Tobias, Kelly McGillis was the greater star and yet in the end, Jodie proved that she's the more enduring presence on the screen. 

Sarah Tobias seems to be a typical white trash woman who would have been played by Melissa Leo if she had been more famous back then. Such a part requires something that I really-really dislike: scenery chewing. Thankfully, one of the most subtle actresses, Jodie Foster was there to do that in the least obvious way, but a fact is a fact and scenery chewing remains scenery chewing. Jodie, a favorite of mine, was there to do one of my least favorite things in acting and therefore not having a great chance of winning me over. 

She succeeded partly, though. Although her character doesn't have much of a development, Jodie seems to realise that and instead she tries to show us what's going on in Sarah's head and as a result, she created a (sort of) intimate portrait of a woman who's going through a very traumatic event. Kelly McGillis gets the huge courtroom speeches, but it's Jodie who gets the tears and the more emotional storyline. The audience sympathises with Jodie despite the fact that her character is so trashy. 

Moreover, Jodie's always magnetic presence constantly draws the attention of the viewer and despite the lack of big screentime, she's able to leave a strong impression. I must say, though, she didn't have to do much since the movie constantly provided her with the opportunities to shine, she just had to live with all of them. And for an actress of her caliber, it wasn't the most difficult task. This might be very unpopular thing to say, but I would even dare to say that this was an easy role for Jodie. 

The first time you see this movie, you don't really notice this since you are captivated by the emotions as she's indeed effective. However, at a second viewing, you can be more objective because you know what to expect and the shock on you is not going to be that strong. Interestingly, no big flaws come to surface once you see her again. It's just that you're not that drawn by her and you can see that this character is not much of a deal (which doesn't mean you're not sympathising with her, it's just that you cannot get so passionate about the story).

Also, it's quite fun to see Jodie's interactions with Kelly McGillis. Their chemistry is excellent and I loved how the two of them showed the alliance of two worlds, two lifestyles. Although Jodie acts circles around McGillis, it somehow doesn't ruin balance between the two characters. I especially loved the scene between them where Jodie reads McGillis' horoscope. There's a kind of a tenderness and intimacy to that scene, which makes it particularly impressive. I always felt that the relationship between them is the strongest and most believable part of the movie. I loved how the actresses gradually broke down the barriers between the characters and got closer to each other.

However, the highlight of Jodie Foster's performance is her character's testimony at the courtroom. It was one of the rare deep moments of the film and I remained captivated by Jodie's energy and the emotions she portrayed. For me, her words were much more harrowing than the actual scene of the rape, because it (even if for a short period of time) really showed the disturbing consequences of rape on a person's soul. I was most blown away by one sentence that she says after being almost tortured by a lawyer and she simply replies: 'Yes, that's fair.' It's quite probably my favorite Jodie Foster moment ever as it sums up why she's so great as an actress: she has wonderful emotional intelligence.

All in all, Jodie Foster gives a very good and intense performance as Sarah Tobias. Although she's much less effective the second time around, her strength is occasionally captivating and she leaves a lasting impression in the end. Jodie minimises the scenery chewing and her acting is never too much in your face. And her courtroom scene is one of the best acted scenes of Jodie's career. Memorable, strong work. 

What do you think? The next review comes on Thursday at the same time. I decided to give you more time to comment and I don't want to fall behind them, either while I'm away. 


mrripley said...

Great performance but should have been nowhere near Glenn and i don't think Melanie had a chance in 88 i think Weaver was before her.

dinasztie said...

According to Inside Oscar, Jodie, Melanie and Great Glenn were the front-runners and the two others were considered out though I also feel that Siggy got ahead of Melanie in the end.

Fritz said...

I think that Jodie had an easy win even if Glenn Close was outstanding. Hers is such a showy part and I'm sure in 1988, the movie was considered extremely important.

JC said...

Showy role, important film - maybe that did it.

Still, I'm not fully satisfied with this performance for the reason that she was not given enough to work with.

dinasztie said...

Fritz: I refuse to think that anyone had an easy win over Great Glenn in DL. :D I'm sorry. :D I might be deluding myself but never mind. :)))

mrripley said...

Neither do I,I think it's one of my top 5 ever.

Nues20 said...

For me she is great but I didn't always emotionally connect with her.
I agree the court room scene is really great.
Even though she is not in it as much as McGillis I still think that Jodie's win wasn't a weak one.
Hope u have a really great break.
Can't wait till Thursday! :) D

dinasztie said...

Thanks Nues20! :)

OK, I'm sharing the schedule here as well:
5th July: Melanie
8th: Siggy
11th: Meryl
13th: Conclusion (haha, you'll be surprised) :D

joe burns said...

I think Jodie is great and a very worthy winner! Probably 2nd for me!

I think the movie is good, not as bad as people say.

Louis Morgan said...

Still have not gotten around to seeing this one mostly because of the film's reputation.