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  Dream Lover Trouble And Strife
Year: 1993
Director: Nicholas Kazan
Stars: James Spader, Mädchen Amick, Fredric Lehne, Bess Armstrong, Larry Miller, Kathleen York, Kate Williamson, Tom Lillard, William Shockley, Carl Lundstrom, Irwin Keyes, Scott Coffey, Clyde Kusatsu, Erick Avari, Paul Ben-Victor, Janel Moloney, Alexander Folk
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: When Ray Reardon (James Spader) was being divorced from his wife, he told the judge he did not wish to contest a thing, he had sacked his lawyer, and she could have anything she wanted. The trouble was, as he readily admitted to her, he was still in love with her, and those feelings meant he had trouble finding anyone to replace her as his friends were all too aware. They did their best to cheer him up by setting dates with eligible women for him, but nothing really clicked; he was the head of a successful architecture firm, so it was not as if he had nothing to offer, yet where was the right woman for Ray?

All those years playing snooker and you never knew Ray Reardon was such a dark horse, I mean, sure he looked like Bela Lugosi so it's strange they got James Spader to take the role, but Ray didn't seem the type. Anyway, here was one of those nineties "erotic thrillers" which essentially ditched the erotic business within about half an hour to concentrate on intrigue, but in spite of that Dream Lover became popular with fans of the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks because the title character was played by Mädchen Amick, the much victimised Shelly from that show. There was a reason this was more watched than any of her other movies, however.

Well, there was one scene more watched, and that was the sequence where she and Spader got naked, though her more than him, so if you were shallow and merely viewing the movie to get an eyeful then you would be more than satisfied. What was not quite as satisfying was the plot, as writer and director Nicholas Kazan appeared to be under the impression there were some genuine surprises in store when pretty much every twist was telegraphed far in advance. That was not due to any problems with his writing, it was more down to the genre he was working in, which by this point in time was so well worn that you would have to be a true innocent not to twig the way things were going.

So for that first act, Ray sets aside his cue and is almost giving up on finding a replacement for his ex when he happens to literally bump into Amick's Lena at his friend's new gallery show. The next week he's late night grocery shopping and he meets her again, though this time she's a lot more amiable and they end up having dinner together. One thing leads to another, and after that night of passion he decides he is in love with this mystery beauty and one whirlwind romance later they are married, and it's there the issues arise. Is Lena all she says she is? In fact, has she said who she is at all? These doubts nag at Ray's thoughts until he develops a habit of rifling through his wife's handbag.

Not finding anything, but the story takes the position that if at first you don't get the answer you wanted to the question obsessing you, keep asking and it'll come to you eventually. This might have been an interesting premise for a spousal abuse narrative, and Kazan flirts with that as Ray grows ever more irate, but all the investigations he insists on carrying out to prove his happy marriage is not anywhere near as content as it appears finally bear fruit and we are left utterly unshocked that Lena, in spite of her apparent loyalty and bearing him two bouncing babies, is in fact a cold-hearted manipulator. Any possibilities that we could be watching a man whose irrationality has sent him round the bend, thus making for a more arresting story, are left well alone, and Kazan's habit of illustrating his protagonist's mental state with dream sequences featuring a scary clown didn't help much. Also the plot he concocts to extricate himself from the situation is hard to believe, to say the least. Maybe he was crazy after all? Music by Christopher Young.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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