Jodie Foster has been acting since she was three, in Mayberry, R.F.D. She had her breakout roles in two Scorsese films: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Taxi Driver, for which she won an Academy Award nomination. Then (and I hadn’t remembered this part) her career more or less tanked. She enrolled at Yale and was thinking of abandoning her movie career but decided to give it one last try. She thought her performance in this harrowing film was no good, but everyone else disagreed. She won the Best Actress Oscar. Three years later she won again, for The Silence of the Lambs.
This story was based on a real case, a gang rape that went on for two hours in a bar where the ones who didn’t do the actual raping cheered the rapists on, and prevented the bartender from rescuing the woman, Cheryl Araujo. She eventually ran from the bar, half naked. A lot of men got charged and eventually found guilty. What the movie doesn’t really show is that all during the trial and afterwards the community was solidly, angrily on the side of the rapists. Araujo, her lawyer, and even the two Marines who picked her up that night and might have saved her life, got death threats. She had to move from Massachusetts to Florida, where a few years later she was killed in a car accident, driving drunk. I don’t know if she was an alcoholic before the rape, but she sure was after. Easy for me to understand.
Everyone involved said it was a difficult shoot. The rape scene took five days, and was traumatic not just for Foster but for the men playing the rapists. But it was necessary to film it, to show just how horrible it all was. It’s hard to watch, but you really should.
A bit of trivia. The film was actually shot entirely in Vancouver, B.C. When they were filming it I was staying in Vancouver, working with Phillip Borsos on one of the abortive attempts to get my film Millennium off the ground. It turns out Jodie Foster was staying in the same hotel. Through the producer’s daughter, Julie Foreman, I was able to briefly meet her in the hotel’s gym. Like so many of the famous people I met when working in films, it was just a “Hi, pleased to meet you” shaking hands sort of thing, but I was really impressed.