"Dream Lover", what a great and suggestive title!
I watched this film with my friend Radiant Raphael. He is a great fan of Madchen Amick (the A of Madchen has an umlaut on it; the name is German for "girl"), whom he describes as "voluptuous". I was amazed that Amick's character, Lena, is able to have sex without removing her pearl necklace. Surely that must be uncomfortable? Or is that the point?
I am also amazed that James Spader (Ray) can even make pushing a supermarket trolley seem sexy. I do, however, have a quibble with the hair department. The gel was a terrible idea. After "Mannequin" and "Bad Influence", Spader should have had a clause inserted in all his contracts saying, "Will not wear hair gel unless playing a geek", alongside his "no full frontal nudity" clause.
Fans of Ms Amick will be delighted to learn that she had no such clause. The brief scene where we see her naked does seem rather contrived. In other words, this film contains sleazy, gratuitous nudity! It also contains Spader as a devious blonde yuppie, which is also good. Certainly, he did play other roles in films that appeared between 1987 and 1996, but he also played enough "devious blonde yuppie" characters for his name to come up when a search engine looked for the phrase.
The DBY label does not answer the question: is Ray an okay guy with a nasty side (his first wife left because he hit her once) or is he going to turn out to be evil? Spader is very good at doing enigmatic characters who may turn out to be nice, or may not ...
Even one of Ray's friends tells him he is "disgusting". He does not mean it literally: he means he envies Ray for being young, successful and gorgeous. Note to hair department: young and gorgeous. I do not understand why they wanted to suggest Ray was "mutton dressed as lamb" by combining boyish waviness with a severe side parting that suggested Ray's hair was receding.
My favourite prop was undoubtedly Lena's diaphragm. It is quite rare for a film featuring heterosexual sex to mention contraception! I can only think of two of Spader's other films that do: there is a condom joke in "The Rachel Papers" and a reference to a diaphragm and coitus interruptus in "Speaking of Sex".
Ironically, as far as I can recall, this is the only one of Spader's films where he has to interact with a baby. He looked very affectionate towards it.
The little interlude with the baby made a pleasant contrast to the many scenes of Ray and Lena's marriage. It was clearly going pear-shaped (as in "going wrong").
Raphael and I both enjoyed the carnival fantasy/dream sequences. The script was good in places. I liked the bit where attractive breasts were described as resembling pears! Maybe there are times when "going pear-shaped" is a good thing to do!
However, there are a lot of holes in the plot. Amazon will not let me include spoilers. Suffice it to say that I had questions regarding the following: DNA, whether somebody is spitting, how drugged Billy would be if spitting does take place, laws relating to psychiatric patients and the ethical codes adhered to by lawyers! I was also confused by the timescale when somebody mentioned the age of the little girl.
Raphael says this is his favourite out of all 16 Spader films that I have made him sit through. I don't think it is in the same league as "sex, lies and videotape" or "The Stickup". I would also have preferred for Lena to be more assertive when it really mattered. It is not in my top half dozen favourite Spader films, all of which begin with S. It holds the attention, so I give it three points.
I am adding another point because of the contraception. Dreams don't get people pregnant, but real sex has consequences, and it would be nice if fiction reflected that a bit more.