Dream Lover is a movie of psychological suspense, quoted by the New York Times as a “smart, diabolical thriller” that stars James Spader and Mädchen Amick. The film is written and directed by Nicholas Kazan. I first heard about Dream Lover from movie critic Roger Ebert on Siskel & Ebert, praising Mädchen Amick for her beauty and her performance in the film. I agree that her performance was memorable but so was the ending which had a nice surprise twist.
Ray Reardon (James Spader) is rich and successful. He runs his own architect business. He’s getting divorced when the movie opens. From chatting with his friends, we learn that Ray prefers the family life to that of being single. His friends take him out to cheer him up on his newly single status. During a party for his friend, Norman (Larry Miller), Ray meets the beautiful Lena Mathers (Mädchen Amick). He accidently bumps into her and she spills her drink down her dress. She rudely tells him off and leaves.
The two meet again at a grocery store sometime later. Lena recognizes him from the party and she is embarrassed about her behavior and how she treated him and apologizes. Ray asks her out for dinner and the two begin to get to know each other more intimately. The film takes the time to show how their relationship develops from strangers to lovers and on up until the two are married.
While celebrating their wedding anniversary one night, a stranger who recognizes Lena, comes up to her and starts to call her “Sissy” and speaks to her as if she knows her. Lena tells her that she’s mistaken and the stranger, horrified by the mistake, quietly apologizes and leaves. This is where doubt and suspicion begins to play a role in the story. Ray soon realizes that he doesn’t know much about his wife’s background and this begins to bother him. The lies and secrets are only the beginning of the hell that Ray goes through to get to the truth.
This movie is not categorized as psychological suspense for nothing. This is a contemplative film about what happens when you don’t bother looking beneath the surface. Lena’s past life doesn’t resemble anything she’s told Ray. The nice twists and turns throughout the movie will have you on the edge of your seat. This is an intelligent thriller for adults. To cap it off, there’s a nice twist to it that I didn’t see coming. I thought it quite brilliant in theory. The movie’s title, Dream Lover, is about Ray’s subconscious thoughts/dreams about what makes the ideal woman.
The twist at the end was surprising to me in a smart and clever way. The suspense is well done. The paranoia and red herrings are well done, too. A lot of people really like the actress who played Lena. Admittedly, she is quite beautiful. I haven’t seen her on much of anything lately. Her filmography shows her to have been on Mad Men most recently as Andrea Rhodes in the episode of “Mystery Date.” I’m not a Mad Men fan.
James Spader is pretty good in here but his best movie role is still tied to Sex, Lies and Videotape. Dream Lover is one of the better movies of psychological suspense. It’s an erotic thriller with twists and turns that will surely surprise you. I’ve gotten all of my family & friends to watch this film. I can’t think of any other movie to compare it with because truly, that ending is original in and of itself.
Sadly, not very many people seem to share my love for this movie. At the Rotten Tomatoes site it shows a 54% fresh rating where only 40% of the audience enjoyed the film. I say don’t let that statistic detract you if the plot of the movie interested you. Other reviews: Janet Maslin’s review at the New York Times and Roger Ebert’s review.