Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a successful fashion photographer whose mixture of sex and violence in her works has lent her name some notoriety as well as acclaim. However, there is someone who is so incensed by this art that they are willing to kill to eliminate it from the world, and as if that were not disturbing enough there is some kind of psychic link between Laura and the killer, which makes itself plain when she is asleep one night and has an unsettling dream where she sees through the eyes of someone murdering one of her friends - a dream which turns out to be true.
None other than Barbra Streisand introduces us to this film, as for a while she was to be the star, but in the event simply recorded the theme song over the enigmatic opening credits. This actually went through a number of transformations before it ended up in the incarnation we see today, and producer Jon Peters is the man many hold responsible for taking by all accounts a very good script by John Carpenter and turning it into a shallow item of glossy thrills that we see today. That screenplay was rewritten and reworked many times before Peters was happy with it, and some of the reviews were surprisingly positive.
Others, however, saw it for the superficial effort it was, taking an interesting premise and doing precisely nothing with it: as the story plays out, there is little point in having the gimmick of the psychic link at all, and the film could have been almost exactly the same without it as it in no way helps in the detection of the killer and simply offers an excuse for further emotional trauma for Laura. You could look at this as an American version of the Italian giallo, one of a few such things in the seventies and eighties mostly perpetrated by Brian De Palma, but here the tension and ideas were sabotaged by strictly second rate handling.
Director Irvin Kershner was not well known for thrillers, and would soon be best renowned for helming The Empire Strikes Back, but he displays little flair with the material he is offered here. As Laura tries to work out who has, er, dunaway with her friends, the film pretty much treads water until it can reach its big twist ending, which incidentally has no precedent in the rest of the film and turns up out of the blue, utterly illogical as it is. Everything about the film is straining for late seventies chic, with Laura's photographs actually taken by Helmut Newton, but looking more than a little absurd in their aloof intentions to shock.
We have no shortage of suspects, including a hairy Brad Dourif as Laura's driver who has a criminal past, her ex-husband Raul Julia who happened to be living with the second victim at the time of her death, or Rene Auberjonois amping up the camp as her agent (well, OK, it's obviously not going to be him). To help our heroine, Tommy Lee Jones comes to the rescue as the cop on the case who she falls in improbable love with, and for a while it looks as if she won't have any friends left as the filmmakers strike them down in visions that only she can see, but conveniently not to the extent that she can make out who is doing the deed. All in all, you don't buy into the relationships, and the whole production looks as if it would rather have been a soap opera along the lines of Mahogany. Music by Artie Kane.