Dream Lover (1994): Erotic Thriller Starring James Spader

The great French cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier makes a major contribution to the rather sleazy erotic thriller, Dream Lover, by giving its handsome star, James Spader, a lavish treatment with a glowing camera.

The tale, written and directed by Nicholas Kazan, revolves around Ray Reardon (Spader), a successful architect who goes through divorce proceedings from his first wife.

At a gallery opening, he meets a woman, a set up courtesy of his obnoxious friend, Norman (Larry Miller).  Accidentally, he causes embarrassment when he bumps into a seductive woman, Lena Mathers (Madchen Amick), and she spills wine all over herself. Lena, upset, verbally insults him.

A week later, he meets Lena at the supermarket, and she apologizes for her behavior. They go out on a date, have hot sex, and get married shortly thereafter.

Ray becomes suspicious when Lena is caught lying about her past, and his doubts turn to paranoia, when his wife shows “unexplainable” bruises.  Is she cheating on him?

During a tense confrontation, Lena taunts Ray by claiming to have an affair with a friend of his, and refusing to acknowledge whether Ray is their children’s biological father. Ray hits Lena, who then has him arrested and committed to a mental hospital.

Despite attempts to prove that Lena has been lying, the judge finds Ray to be mentally incompetent and orders six months of seclusion. Shortly after Ray has been committed, Lena admits to him that his suspicions about her were correct, and that she had planned for years to declare him insane.

When Lena shows up at his birthday party, Ray lures her away, and tells her that having him declared insane was a “mistake” because he could not be held accountable for killing her. He then chokes her to death on the lawn.

Released by Gramercy in May 6, 1994, the film was both a critical and commercial flop.

Running time: 103 Minutes.

James Spader as Ray Reardon
Mädchen Amick as Lena Mathers Reardon
Fredric Lehne as Larry
Bess Armstrong as Elaine
Larry Miller as Norman
Kathleen York as Martha