While Justice Sleeps (1994) starring Cybill Shepherd, Tim Matheson, Karis Paige Bryant, Dion Anderson, Henry Beckman, Anna Ferguson, Kurtwood Smith directed by Ivan Passer Movie Review

While Justice Sleeps (1994)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Cybill Shepherd in While Justice Sleeps (1994)

Justice in Her Own Hands

"While Justice Sleeps" starts with what is meant to be a powerful scene, we see Cybill Shepherd's character enter a courtroom and shoots Tim Matheson's character through the chest. Of course shooting someone in a courtroom is going to cause chaos and panic but it all seems so forced and orchestrated rather than dynamic and real. And what comes next rather than telling us what happened after this it takes us to how it all begins but in doing so having spoiled the surprise as to how it ends up.

So as to how it all starts, well following the death of her husband Jody Stokes (Cybill Shepherd - Baby Brokers) has moved back to her hometown with her daughter Sam (Karis Paige Bryant). It is there that she gets close to softball coach Winn (Tim Matheson - Going Underground) who happily takes care of Sam when Jody is busy. But when Sam has an accident and Jody takes her to the doctors they find signs that she has been abused. Having gone to the authorities in order to do everything by the book especially as Winn is accused of the abuse Jody not only discovers it is much bigger than just her daughter involved but also becomes aware of the dirty tricks his lawyer will go to in order to win. But when it seems like he is going to get away with it, it forces Jody to desperate measures.

Tim Matheson and Karis Paige Bryant in While Justice Sleeps (1994)

Now I am of the opinion that any movie which deals with the subject of child abuse deserves some praise and there are elements to "While Justice Sleep" which deserve praise. But at the same time it is a movie which tries too hard to make an impact right from that opening scene. There are other scenes as well such as one where Sam's behaviour is being observed by a professional and she starts to destroy a doll with a baseball bat, it is too forced and makes it more of a movie trying to be entertaining than real. Although having said that there are some truly powerful scenes and unsettling ones such as when we see Winn start rubbing the young Sam's shoulders and telling her it is there secret.

As for the acting well sadly Cybill Shepherd over acts her part and that also leads to Tim Matheson to also over act to try and keep up with her. It is part of the reason why "While Justice Sleeps" ends up feeling forced but then there is the young Karis Paige Bryant who is fantastic as young Sam and brings vulnerability to her character with out over doing it.

What this all boils down to is that "While Justice Sleeps" is naturally a powerful movie due to it dealing with the subject of child abuse. But unfortunately it is one which feels forced which distracts from the movies natural power and switches more to one which is trying to be entertaining rather than hard hitting.