Anna (Valerie Bertinelli) and Kevin Dunne (John Savage) are a mostly happy
young couple saving for their first house and trying to get pregnant in
Pittsburgh. She works at a discount department store, and he comes from a
close Irish family and owns a trash
hauling business. After work on day, she meets
him at the Happy Hour, his family's favorite gin mill. There, she sees her
married brother-in-law and two of his friends romancing an obviously
inebriated women (Melissa Leo). The four lose their balance and fall to the floor. The
three pick her up, carry her to a table, and rape her. The bartender pulls out
a club, but one of the three guys takes it from him and threatens everyone
else in the bar if they interfere. Most leave, but Anna and Kevin are forced
to stay and watch helplessly.
The girl, an alcoholic subject to blackouts, remembered who raped her, but
not where, and wasn't going to report it until her counselor nearly forced her
to. The Dunne family immediately pressures Anna and Kevin into not testifying,
which would would make the trial the victim's word against the three accused
and the bartender. Given the victim's history of blackouts, it looks like a
cakewalk for the defense.
And now we come to the point of the film. The story centers around the
rape, which we see in real time so that there is no question that it was rape,
and a brutal one at that, with one of the three guys even taking out a knife.
There is always some rhetoric about any film depicting rape as misogynistic,
but here, the rape was shown accurately as a horrible violent crime, and is
therefore, in my opinion, feminist, and not misogynistic at all.
But this film is not really about the rape or the rape victim at all. Until
I took a long look at the title trying to figure out what to say, I didn't
grasp that point. Once I did, the narrative decisions made more sense. The
film is really about Anna's moral and ethical dilemma. When Anna sees the girl
break under cross examination on TV, she has had enough. She agrees to
testify, and the family, through their attorney, come after her in spades.
I would have preferred a different focus, one with more character
development, especially showing the bond between the family members before
the rape. That would have helped to explain everyone's reactions to the
incident. I would have liked to understand, for example, why the rapist's wife
and mother, even after knowing he was guilty, continued to perjure themselves
and attacked other family members to defend him.
However, the film was about Anna dealing with the position she found
herself in, with all of her sympathies on the side of the rape victim, and her
loyalties with her husband, and given that fact, it is not a bad film. In
fact, it is meatier than much TV fare, although I predicted the ending less
than halfway through the film.