Family values have gone to pot in the rustic logging town dramatized in the made-for-cable film "Shame," airing tonight at 9 on Lifetime.
The young men are yahoos, callow and brutish. The fathers are despairing and droopy, always fighting with their children. The women are weary and defeated. And teen-age girls are routine objects of sexual ridicule.
Roaring into this ordinary American town on a candy red motorbike comes a sleek blonde in black leather, like an apparition from another galaxy. Actually, she's a big-city lawyer (Amanda Donohoe of "L.A. Law," appropriately enough") on vacation in the scenic Northwest. When her bike breaks down, she sticks around long enough to shake up the village deadwood and salvage some battered souls.
Central to the plot and theme is the rape and shame of a high school girl on prom night (the impressive Fairuza Balk), the script's indictment of ugly male bonding and the silence of a town that is an accomplice to the girl's degradation.
Donohoe, as the liberated out-of-towner, brings a welcome urgency to the movie. And the rape victim's morose father, who repairs cars in his garage, is sensitively rendered by Dean Stockwell in the movie's most authentic characterization.
The film is actually a remake of a 1987 Australian movie of the same title. And if the story seems curiously dated--sexual harassment, rape and female assertion movies having filled a lot of prime time--that's because "Shame" (directed by Dan Lerner and adapted from the first "Shame" movie by Rebecca Soladay) was fresher material five years ago.