Picks and Pans Review: Defenseless

updated 09/09/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/09/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Barbara Hershey, Sam Shepard

Abandon all sense of plausibility, ye who enter here. For one thing, Hershey, as a lawyer, is supposed to be carrying on an affair with a married client, not knowing that his wife is her college roommate. She is also a smart woman who is supposed to find it cute that the lover, J.T. Walsh, calls her Pie Face. Finally, Shepard is a cop who appears to be working 24 hours a day on one case—a murder in which Hershey defends the old roommate, Mary Beth Hurt.

If you can stand the plot contortions, this is a diverting B-movie mystery. Hershey, Hurt and Shepard don't overplay the script, and writer James Hicks builds whodunit curiosity once child porn, incest and murder enter the plot. Sheree North, in a supporting role, is sharp as a battered wife.

Just don't expect profundity. In a typical scene, Hicks and director Martin (Criminal Law) Campbell put their stars through one of those elevator shaft rescues that so often occur in real life. And few lines have the bite of one Hershey has, talking about Hurt: "Nobody could be that sweet. They'd be dead of hypoglycemia." (R)

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