'He Loves Me'

A psychological thriller so crazily tawdry it has "(really) guilty pleasure" scrawled all over it.

Remember when Lifetime movies really stood for something: trashy exercises in attractive women being threatened by (or, alternately, behaving like) psychopaths? Well, consider “He Loves Me” a throwback to the bad old days — a psychological thriller so crazily tawdry it has “(really) guilty pleasure” scrawled all over it. By the time the plot goes completely haywire, the target audience’s stretchy pants will be Heather Locklear’ed to their couches. With movies like this, can a remake of “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?” be far behind?

We first meet Locklear’s Laura on a boat, where she engages in a Cinemax-worthy act of public intercourse with bad-boy Sam (Max Martini). Clothes are torn off and hands pressed up against windows and railings. Instantly, we know we’re in good hands.

A successful realtor, Laura’s compulsive relationship with Sam risks endangering her outwardly idyllic relationship with husband Nick (Dylan Neal), and prompts her to begin visiting a therapist (Gabrielle Rose) so she can figure out how to quit him. Yet as their chats progress, the line between reality and imagination starts to blur, causing both the shrink and viewers to wonder what’s really happening, and how much of it might be in Laura’s damaged psyche.

Directed by Jeff Renfroe from Joyce Brotman’s script, “He Loves Me” has to kill time before disgorging its secrets, and does so in unintentionally amusing ways. For starters, there’s a scene where Sam on foot tries chasing down Laura in a cab that seems to go on longer than the pursuit in “The French Connection.”

What makes it work, though (to the extent it does), is how Locklear buys into the silliness with complete conviction and pained expressions, starting out as bored housewife — a la “Dressed to Kill” — before delivering additional bits of backstory that keep altering perceptions of her character.

“What kind of sick twist are you?” she’s asked after one acrimonious encounter.

The answer, of course, is a Lifetime-movie sick twist, baby — warm, gooey and bad for you, just like momma used to make ‘em.

He Loves Me

Movie; Lifetime, Mon. March 7, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Vancouver by Tell Me a Story Prods. Executive Producer, Anne Carlucci; producer, Harvey Kahn; director, Jeff Renfroe; writer, Joyce Brotman.

Crew

Camera, Adam Sliwinski; production designer, Monika Choynowski; editor, Richard Schwadel; music, James Geldand. 120 MIN.

Cast

Laura - Heather Locklear
Sam - Max Martini
Dr. Browning - Gabrielle Rose
Nick - Dylan Neal
Suzanne - Jill Teed

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