A splashy, flashy courtroom drama, The Accused feels, in many ways, like a throwback. In the era of Peak TV, where mysteries often unravel over tens of hours only to reveal further questions to be answered, a simple 100 minute big screen procedural is novel, almost quaint.
A disclaimer at the start takes pains to assure the audience that Accused is not based on any real cases, but it has clearly been inspired, at least in part, by the Amanda Knox trial and ones like it as we follow sole suspect Dolores Dreier (Lali Esposito) as she faces trial for the murder of her best friend. With all the beautiful young women involved, the case is a national sensation – all the while obliterating the Dreier household.
It’s a consistently engaging story, and director Gonzalo Tobal makes use of stylish visuals and plentiful licensed tracks to hold your interest. However, it does lack real tension. The case against Dolores is so flimsy, evidence-wise, that the result of the trial is rarely in doubt, no matter how many times a certain clique of witnesses commit character assassinations. It’s odd that the film never explores this, and even odder that a later discovery of evidence, framed as crucial at the time, is pretty much entirely forgotten about.
Esposito is the engine that drives the film, the undisputed star of the show even when Gael Garcia Bernal pops up as a populist talk show host. There’s a brittleness and vulnerability to her – the unbelievable stress of her situation slowly breaking her down, as well as a fearsome strength and rage that keeps just a hint of doubt in your mind about her innocence.
The Accused is unlikely to surprise you at any point, with either its plot or style. But it’s never less than an enjoyable watch with a compelling lead performance.
CAST: Lali Esposito, Gael Garcia Bernal, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Ines Esteves
DIRECTOR: Gonzalo Tobal
WRITERS: Gonzalo Tobal, Ulises Porra
SYNOPSIS: Dolores Dreier lives the life of a young student until her best friend is brutally murdered. Two years later, she is the only one accused of the crime in a case of great media exposure that has put her in the center of the scene: everyone has an opinion about her innocence or guilt. Dolores prepares for the isolated trial at home, while the Dreier family works as a team willing to do everything to defend their daughter. But as the process progresses and the pressure increases, secrets and suspicion appear within the family. Cornered by the evidence, Dolores will have to face her own doubts about what really happened.