Ray is young, charming, successful and the owner of a prosperous architect company. However, he has recently gone trough a very painful divorce. His friends try to cheer him up by showing him the positive sides of being single but for Ray marriage and stability is just too important. But when he meets Lena his gloom is quickly forgotten.
In this R-rated erotic thriller from writer/director Nicholas Kazan (his directorial debut film), the central title character or alluring “dream lover” was a mysterious and gorgeous femme fatale. [Note: This film was not to be confused with Kristy McNichols’ film Dream Lover (1986).]
The suspenseful film was intended to cash in on the success of the earlier Basic Instinct (1992), and was similar in plot to the homosexually-tinged Bad Influence (1990). The unrated (and uncut) version of the theatrical film contained a few more minutes of extended sex scenes (and additional footage of the ending).
The two lovers came into ‘accidental’ contact with each other at an art gallery opening and in a supermarket:
Lena Mathers (Madchen Amick), beautiful and sensual
Ray Reardon (James Spader), a successful architect and recent divorcee
Lena married Ray after dream dates, storybook sex and romance, and they soon started a family. Cracks began to develop, hinted at earlier by Lena herself:
Look, just ’cause I’m halfway pretty, guys look in my eyes and think they know me. I become their fantasy. I’m just a regular screwed-up person. So when you say I’m beautiful, it’s like you’re not seeing me at all.
But Ray quickly learned that he had been duped for his money while she was duplicitous and devious regarding many aspects of her life: her past history, her identity, her friends, the bruises on her leg, and her afternoon disappearances to conduct a weekly affair with his friend Larry (Fredric Lehne).
He finally sought revenge, although it ultimately cost him his sanity and freedom, when he was committed to a mental institution for six months for observation. When Lena privately admitted to him that his fears and suspicions were well-founded, and that she had duped him for monetary gain, he lured her to the mental hospital during his birthday party to speak to her about a ‘mistake’ she had made.
In the film’s twist ending set at the institution during his party, he lured her away to talk alone, unseen by attendants. He told her: “This is the last time we’re gonna see each other, right?” He described how he felt “alive” and “inspired” finally – and grabbed her. She threatened to scream, but he cautioned her that she wouldn’t get what she wanted or deserved. He suggested that he wanted to help her by telling her the flaw in her plan, so that she wouldn’t repeat her error the next time around. He first demanded a real kiss: “Kiss me and I’ll tell, only it has to be a real kiss. Something to remember.”
After he kissed her, he stated: “Who are you, Lena? Who will you be when you die?” Before strangling her to death, he told her there would be no consequences for his actions. He claimed that since he had been declared insane, he couldn’t be held accountable for her death:
Ray: There are no consequences – that’s the flaw in your plan. I’m crazy. You’ve driven me crazy.
Lena: That was the whole idea.
Ray: Well, crazy people aren’t responsible. Crazy people aren’t legally responsible. I’m not guilty by reason of insanity. In a year, I’ll be sane again and they’ll have to let me out.
He strangled her, and then laid her body on the lawn. The film abruptly ended with the credits atop images of Ray and Lena wildly revolving on a dance floor. In the extended version of the film, Ray was released from the hospital and was with his children at the zoo.
Tags: Bess Armstrong, Carl Sundstrom, Dream Lover, Dream Lover Online, Fredric Lehne, Free movies 1993, James Spader, Kate Williamson, Kathleen York, Larry Miller, Mädchen Amick, Tom Lillard, William Shockley