Writer Rebecca Soladay creates a strong heroine who sets out to right wrongs in a small town through which she’s passing, but the problems multiply and Miss Fixit, leaving violence and death in her wake, rides off on her bike. A reverse mirror to “Shane,” it’s unlikely anyone will call after the lone cyclist to come back.
Diana (Amanda Donohoe), an L.A. assistant D.A. on vacation, invades the burg when her bike breaks down. Getting help from the middle-aged, gentle mechanic Tim (Dean Stockwell), Diana encounters his teenage daughter Lizzie (Fairuza Balk), who’s heading off on a date with one of the local boys and is later gang-raped by his buddies.
Tim, bitter over his wife’s taking a powder years ago, has no sympathy for Lizzie, and everyone else around town’s too frightened by the gang. The police chief (Larry Bradenberg) isn’t much help. More, the mother (Paula Shaw) of one of the punks throws her weight around and, since she owns the local mill, that weight’s considerable.
Dynamic Diana encourages Lizzie to press charges against the hoodlums, something no one’s done before. Putting Lizzie out on the limb, she announces she has to go back to L.A., but Lizzie begs her to stay. The stacked-deck plotting lacks much conviction as Diana goes about alienating all comers and Tim presumably learns the value of fighting for his daughter.
“Shame,” directed to mechanical effect by Dan Lerner, leaves a situation less resolved than stirred up. Diana, the catalytic character, spouts off, shows her physical prowess by beating up young men and suggests the ladies learn how to defend themselves against attacks. She cleans up the current debris, but there’s not much guarantee it won’t be back in more outrageous forms, since the root cause of the difficulties are bypassed.
Donohoe, severe in a short blonde haircut, plays Diana as though the woman were a no-fail Lone Ranger whose personal life is, no matter what she says, a blank. A momentary dramatic opportunity almost surfaces when one of the young bums walks in to find Diana comforting Lizzie, but the subject’s hastily dropped.
Stockwell presents a dependable characterization, and Balk limns Lizzie, especially in a well-read scene recalling her rape, in first-rate style. Waytt Orr as Lizzie’s date, Shelley Owens as Lizzie’s fellow victim, Betty Phillips as Tim’s mother, Lee Garlington, Paula Shaw, Scott Bellis are all noteworthy.
Production looks good, with Rob Orieux’s camerawork slick, and David McCue’s restrained score solid. Douglas Higgins’s design sustains the TV movie’s mood.