A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The truth will win out. It is important to fight for justice, even if the system feels rigged against you.
Positive Role Models
Sarah shows strength, determination, and bravery in attempting to overcome her ordeal and bring the perpetrators to justice, though often relies on alcohol and drugs to get through the day. Kathryn is initially cold and practical, but softens and shows genuine concern. Kenneth is forced to make a moral choice between protecting a friend and telling the truth, but ultimately does the right thing.
Majority of cast are White, though the two lead characters are women. While one is the victim of a violent sexual assault, both are portrayed as strong and capable. Many men in the bar are shown to be sexually, physically, or verbally aggressive, and those at the district attorney's office are portrayed as unfeeling and, to some extent, corrupt. One male college student shows bravery in helping to hold the other men to account. An instance of homophobic language is used to goad a character into raping a woman.
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Violence & Scariness
Extended gang rape scene and frequent mention of rape, including a victim recounting the ordeal in court. Injuries shown, including blood on the legs and face, and bruises to the torso. A car repeatedly rams into another vehicle, resulting in hospitalization and head injury. Physical and verbal aggression.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
During a criminal trial a character is subjected to invasive examination and questioning about their sex life. Partial nudity.
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Frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bastards," "motherf----rs," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "slut," "p---y," and "pissed." Homophobic slur "f--got" is used. "Jesus" and "goddammit" used as exclamations.
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Products & Purchases
Bar scene shows some alcohol brands, including Coors.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are seen drinking alcohol on a number of occasions, including beers and spirits. Intoxication shown. There is some smoking of cannabis and cocaine is mentioned. Characters also smoke cigarettes frequently. Passing mention of drug dealing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Accused is a hard-hitting yet important legal drama that saw Jodie Foster win an Oscar for her portrayal of Sarah Tobias, a victim of a brutal gang rape. The rape itself is portrayed and recounted in detail, with partial nudity shown. There is strong language throughout, including "s--t," "p---y," and variants of "f--k." "F--got" is also used as a homophobic slur. There is also drinking to the point of drunkenness, and smoking of both cigarettes and pot. The serious topic is explored both via the victim's experience and the limitations of the legal system, with Kelly McGillis playing Sarah's attorney. Based loosely on a real-life case, the film is an intense but powerful watch that is not suitable for kids or younger teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on a real-life trial, this film from 1988 makes an impact not just in the brutality of the crime, but the way in which the victim is treated in the aftermath. In The Accused, Sarah is handled with clinical coldness and suspicion, while behind the scenes, lawyers make decisions based more on tidy outcomes and sure wins than a true concern for justice.
Foster took home an Academy Award for her intense and intimate performance. Sarah is a woman who at first seems powerless, but who then finds strength in her outrage, moving McGillis' practical lawyer into action from the heart instead of the rule book. It's a compelling film with important things to say, particularly back in the '80s when this kind of subject was not often tackled on-screen. That it is still so relevant decades on makes it all the more impactful.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.