Best Hollywood Movies About Sexual Abuse
By Hijacinta Svabelj
In the light of recent stories regarding alleged sexual abuse cases in Hollywood, in which multiple victims have accused some of the most known figures in the movie industry, it’s interesting to remind ourselves how Hollywood itself is dealing with such topics in the movies.
These are 5 widely known and acclaimed movies that dealt with different types of sexual violence and, the most important thing, they showed how victims of such crimes acted in order to cope with the consequences of abusing and to bring offenders to justice.
THE ACCUSED – 1988
Young working class woman, Sarah (Jodie Foster) seeks the help in the ambulance after being raped in a bar. She decides to sue her attackers and her case is assigned to assistant district attorney Kathryn Murphy, (Kelly McGillis). However, Kathryn’s superior and Kathryn herself doubt she will win this case, having in mind Sarah’s drug problems and provocative behaviour the night the rape happened…
Jodie Foster (The Brave One) plays, as she put it, a woman who is seen as ‘white trash bimbo’ and who gets gang raped in this thought-provoking legal drama directed by Jonathan Kaplan (TV series ‘Law and Order’). ‘The Accused’ was one of the first films to explore some other issues around rape such as responsibility of bystanders of such crime. Stunning Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her performance.
NORTH COUNTRY – 2000
After leaving an abusive husband, Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) arrives in her hometown in Minnesota with her two children and moves in with her parents. Josey meets old friend Glory Dodge (Frances McDormand), who convinces her to take job in local iron mine where she works. Surrounded by mostly male co-workers, Josey and her female colleagues become subject of constant sexual harassment and humiliation…
Niki Caro’s (‘Whale Rider’) drama ‘North Country’ deals with bitter issue of sexual harassment at work place. Interestingly, this film was based on a true story of a miner who filed a lawsuit against her company in the class-action sexual-harassment case. Charlize Theron (‘Atomic Blonde’) and Frances McDormand (‘Butn After Reading’) were both nominated for an Academy Award.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – 2011
A journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is asked by a wealthly businessman to investigate what happened to her niece who disappeared 40 years ago. Trying to solve the case, Mikael is reunited with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant computer hacker who is diagnosed with mental incompetency…
A Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ ( ‘Men Who Hate Women’) inspired two cinema adaptations within 2 years. English-language adaptation was directed by David Fincher (‘Zodiac’). In this thriller-drama the main characters are on the trail of a brutal serial killer whose victims are women. Rooney Mara (‘Carol’) received acclaim of critics and an Oscar nomination – the scenes which include Salander and her sexual predator leave particularly strong impression on the viewer.
SPOTLIGHT – 2015
In 1976, a Boston priest is arrested for a child molestation. However, the case has been dismissed and priest released. In 2001, Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) the editor of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, a small group of journalists writing investigative articles, gets an assignment from the new editor of Globe Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) – to investigate how the prominent church figure covered up child molestation cases…
Dealing with the delicate issue of pedophile abuse in the Catholic church, and how such crimes have been easily covered up for years and years, this bio drama was directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy (‘Win Win’) and won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
In conclusion, these movies are proof that the cinema industry isn’t just meant to be entertaining, but it can also be an effective tool in tackling important social issues. At the same time, we can’t turn away from the fact that Hollywood has been accused of covering up sexual abuse cases within own ranks. Will it have enough courage to deal with this issue? Hollywood, it’s your turn.
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