Embracing the Melodrama Part II #88: Dream Lover (dir by Nicholas Kazan)


Dream_Lover_FilmPosterThe 1994 film Dream Lover is almost as strange as Zandalee.

Dream Lover opens with Roy Reardon (James Spader, giving a very James Spaderish performance) in the process of getting divorced.  Sitting in court, he announces that he’s fired his attorney and that he’s no longer contesting the divorce.  The judge informs him that, if he did contest the divorce, the final judgment would be in his favor.  Roy says that doesn’t matter.  He doesn’t want to contest the divorce.

In the next scene, Roy’s ex-wife tells him that he’s a great guy and that it’s too bad that they couldn’t make the marriage work.  They agree that they were just too different.  She apologizes for cheating on him.  Roy apologizes for hitting her.  They agree that Roy has trust issues.

Over the next few minutes of the film, we follow Roy over the course of his new single life.  We discover that Roy is a successful architect who is always attracted to brunette artists with troubled backstories.  We also discover that Roy’s best friend is an obnoxious yet strangely likable guy named Norman (Larry Miller, who brings some unexpected depth to an obnoxious character).  Norman begs Roy for money.  Roy refuses to give it to him.  Norman invites Roy to an art gallery and offers to set him up with a woman he knows.  Roy agrees.  And, seriously, the first 20 minutes of the film are so dominated by Norman that you’re kind of surprised when the film moves on and he’s no longer in every scene.

(But then again, that’s the type of film that Dream Lover is.  Characters appear and vanish at random.  Plot points are raised and then abandoned.)

Anyway, Roy’s date is disastrous.  (“You don’t like me,” the woman says as tears stream down her face.)  However, during the date, Roy meets Lena (Madchen Amick).  When first they meet, they fight.  Then they run into each other again at the grocery store and they hit it off.  They go to dinner and, despite having a good time, Lena makes a point of not inviting Roy up to her apartment.  The next night, Roy shows up unannounced and Lena does invite him up.  At first, she’s cold towards him.  Then they’re making love.  And then they’re getting married.  And then the clowns show up…

Oh yes, there are clowns in this movie.  Roy is haunted by visions, where he’s at a carnival and random clowns pop up and say cryptic things to him.  “How’s the family?” one asks.  Another one continually reminds him that he doesn’t know much about Lena.

Years pass by.  Lena and Roy have two children but it continues to nag at Roy that he doesn’t know anything about her.  He worries that she’s cheating on him.  He fears that the children are not his.  Roy’s friends tell him that he’s being paranoid.  Roy argues that paranoia is just a heightened form of consciousness.

Roy starts to investigate Lena’s past and here’s where I really laughed out loud.  Roy finds out that Lena is from North Texas and goes down to her hometown.  As Roy arrives in this tiny country town, the camera reveals a huge mountain in the background.  Really, Dream Lover?  A mountain in North Texas?

Anyway, for me, this film never really recovered from that mountain but, if you can overlook that geographic mistake, Dream Lover is occasionally enjoyable because it is such a weird film.  James Spader is hot, Madchen Amick is beautiful, and the entire film features one of those huge and improbable twists that you simply have to see for yourself.

And you can see it because it’s currently available on Netflix!