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Dream Lover (1986)

After she's been attacked in her apartment, Cathy starts reliving the event in her dreams. She seeks help at a sleep disorder research center, but in doing so she encounters some unexpected... See full summary »


Alan J. Pakula


Jon Boorstin
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kristy McNichol ... Kathy Gardner
Ben Masters ... Michael Hansen
Paul Shenar ... Ben Gardner
Justin Deas ... Kevin McCann
John McMartin ... Martin
Gayle Hunnicutt ... Claire
Joseph Culp ... Danny
Matthew Penn ... Billy
Paul West Paul West ... Shep
Matthew Long Matthew Long ... Vaughn Capisi
Jon Polito ... Doctor James
Ellen Parker Ellen Parker ... Nurse Jennifer
Lynn Webster Lynn Webster ... Policewoman
Brenda Cowling Brenda Cowling ... Hotel Manager
Charles West Charles West ... Man at Hilton Hotel


After she's been attacked in her apartment, Cathy starts reliving the event in her dreams. She seeks help at a sleep disorder research center, but in doing so she encounters some unexpected results ... Written by Homme A. Piest <piest@pobox.leidenuniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sleep is the birthplace of all nightmares. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 April 1986 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Amante Sonhador See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$202,733, 23 February 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Not good enough to be a dream, not bad enough to be a snore
7 November 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

The involvement of lead actress Kristy McNicohl, director Alan J. Pakula and cinematographer Sven Nykvist (best known for his regular work with Ingmar Bergman), as well as a fascinating premise, were four good reasons to see 'Dream Lover'.

Really hate to see one of the dissenting voices here but 'Dream Lover' didn't do it for me. Can see why it was panned by critics because to me there were some big problems, while not finding it anywhere as dreadful as reputed (certainly do not agree that 'Dream Lover' didn't have redeeming values). 'Dream Lover' was just a film that could have executed a good idea much better. It had all the makings of a thought-provoking and creepy film, but both of these only came in spurts rather than an overall whole.

'Dream Lover's' best asset is Nykvist's cinematography, frighteningly surreal and beautifully dreamy 'Dream Lover' looks striking in this regard. The sets and lighting are similarly atmospheric. Some sequences actually are pretty unsettling and have suspense and creepiness.

The cast are also a strength and do their best with the wanting material with professional. McNichol is in an atypically darker role to usual and gives plenty of intensity and vulnerability, it's a great lead performance in a challenging and different role for her. Plus she looks sensational. Paul Shenar, who if he made better career choices and hadn't died so young just three years later would have made it bigger, plays one of the creepiest domineering father figures personally seen in any film recently. His chemistry with McNichol has moments of pathos and chills.

Ben Masters is charming and Justin Deas makes the most of a role that isn't developed enough. There are a few thought-provoking moments.

On the other hand, the story and pacing spoil 'Dream Lover'. Some of the pace is leaden and like riding on the back of a lethargic snail. In terms of atmosphere, there is a lack of tension and suspense in general and too often is too sterile. The story is dull with parts that feel like overlong and irrelevant padding and not always easy to follow (downright confusing even in some places), while the ending is anti-climactic and preposterous.

Pakula's direction is uninspired at best and somnambulist at worst, don't think he was that interested in the film or knew what to do with it. While the production values are generally good some of the editing is amateurish, especially the shocking gaffes in day/night scenes.

Rest of the cast struggle to do anything with sketchily written plot device characters (true of the characters here in general) and weak dialogue. The script has thoughtful moments but generally is flabby and gets bogged down by too much confused and rambling psychobabble and overkill histrionics. The music score is forgettable and doesn't really gel with the atmosphere of the film.

On the whole, not that bad but to me it was far from a dream. 4/10 Bethany Cox

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