Sarah Tobias suffers a brutal gang rape one night in a bar, which wasn’t stopped by anyone and some men encouraged it and cheered the three on who committed the horrific offence. Lawyer Kathryn Murphy must change her views in order to fight for justice.
This film is a very tough to watch, that was something I felt pretty early on even though it actually gets worse when we get to see in a very graphic manner the rape scene. I am still a little bit shocked at the level they showed, but I guess it was important to highlight how awful the crime was. Something that unfortunately still happens to women to this day, more than thirty years after this film was released.
It has a powerful opening with Sarah in hospital and incredible shaken and shocked to what had happened to her. Hardly able to actually speak about what had just happened to her. That sets the scene for the film and you know that you want to see the men who did this face justice. Kathryn Murphy was the lawyer given the case and she didn’t really think she could win and ends up taking a plea bargain and allowing the men not to have the rape charge against them. Even watching the film that made me very angry to think that the cases are pushed aside.
Sarah is quite rightly angry when she finds out about the sentences they have been given. They are in prison but with only nine months, although when she questions Kathryn this really does push her to do something about it. She eventually feels that she let Sarah down and realises that these men need to be punished for the rape. When finding out about people actually cheering and witnessing the rape and encouraging other men to join in she decides to put them on trial.
This then leads the film to a court sequence and gives Sarah the chance to tell the story of how she was raped. This also needs someone else to tell their version of events as well, but that is put there with a small twist which was very good. It is tense and you feel uncomfortable as Sarah must be questioned and in a horrible way when she is cross-examined. I think this film can still be regarded as very important to this day, something that made me sad about that though is that I hadn’t actually heard of it until it was listed in the Oscar winners section.
Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her truly inspiring and incredible performance. I really did think she was outstanding and really impressed me from start to finish, it could not have been easy to act in many of the scenes. Kelly McGillis was also impressive as Kathryn and the two actresses really did work well together with some very good exchanges in scenes. Always good to watch an older film and see some truly inspiring female roles.