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DREAM LOVER (director/writer: Nicholas Kazan; cinematographer: Jean-Yves Escoffier; editors: Susan R. Crutcher/Jill Savitt; cast: James Spader (Ray Reardon), Madchen Amick (Lena Reardon), Bess Armstrong (Elaine), Larry Miller (Norman), Fredric Lehne (Larry), William Shockley (Buddy), Clyde Kusatsu (Judge); Runtime: 103; Gramercy Pictures; 1994)
“This was not a very satisfying thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A far-fetched thriller that bogs down in an incredible fashion by the film’s last 20 minutes. Dream Lover takes the law into its own sordid hands. James Spader plays Ray Reardon, a successful, handsome architect, recently divorced and on the lookout for the perfect soulmate in his quest of all his yuppie dreams. Attending his obnoxious friend Norman’s (Miller) art gallery party, he bumps into an attractive and mysterious brunette who arouses his sexual curiosity. She contrives to meet him again at a supermarket and he soon becomes intimately involved with his so-called dream girl, Lena (Amick).

After several years of marriage, kids, and bliss, things begin to fall apart for Ray. Ray catches Lena behaving strangely and in many lies: Lena lies about the college she attended, where she’s from, hiring temp workers to pose as her friends, the bruises she has on her body, that she is sleeping with one of his close friends Larry (Lehne), and how she setup the meeting with him to trap him into marriage. There’s something flat about the way Lena plays the villainous femme fatale. There’s also the lack of chemistry in the relationship she has with the Spader character. Instead of steamy sex we get absurd plot contrivances of how manipulative she is and how she gets the law to back her in her quest to take Spader’s money. The filmmaker wants us to believe that Spader, after a lifetime of being a model citizen and a credit to the business world, is suddenly ruled insane by the judicial system. Spader is sent to a mental institution on only the word of his wife and her shrink, all because he slapped her around after finding out she’s been unfaithful to him. Spader’s attempt to tell about his wife’s false history and that she’s a psychopathic liar are ignored by the courtroom judge. In the laughable trial at his insanity hearing, no mention is made of all her deceits into roping him into the marriage, or of any of the other things she did that were deceptive.

Spader’s kept drugged in an mental institution and his only plan of escaping his nightmare, is to conspire with Larry’s wife Elaine (Armstrong) to come up with a totally insane plan to get revenge on Lena.

This was not a very satisfying thriller: it lacked credibility, memorable performances, and intelligent dialogue. An example of the film’s inane dialogue can best be heard in a typical conversation between the two protagonists. Spader: “You’re a psychopath.” Amick: “Even psychopaths can still love somebody.” This kind of talk might be especially appealing to the psychopaths in the audience.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”