A beautiful young graduate student is living with another graduate student who is in Business School. The boyfriend is a stereotypical male idiot -- bossing her around, possessive, selfish -- and it's not really clear that he likes her that much, although it's hard to understand why not. She is absolutely stunning, a bit like Jackie Kennedy but sultrier and, somehow, pulpier, less fragile. She's also smart and has good temperamental equilibrium. Her big brown eyes dart from target to target and when her features are relaxed they still seem to be smiling. One imagines her smiling in her sleep. But never mind -- the guy is a moron.
Okay. Enter guy number two, Adam, who is a literary type and asks her to type his novel. Jennifer accepts the job and is attracted to this bright and quirky artistic type, everything her old boyfriend isn't. She gets rid of the boyfriend and starts seeing Adam. But, what do you know?, things aren't always what they seem. She reads the manuscript of the novel and finds that the protagonist, a serial murderer, is a lot like Adam himself. And the victim begins to look more and more like Jennifer -- or is it really Natalie, Adam's former girlfriend? This naturally comes to worry Jennifer a bit, especially as the details of the murder become more explicit, although not sufficiently explicit that a viewer can understand what's going on in the imaginary black-and-white assaults we glimpse on screen. Furthermore, Adam has been quirky all along. It was part of his initial attraction. But now he begins to act more and more twisted.
By this time the story, the characters, just about everything, have run out of energy. Someone asks Jennifer why she broke up with boyfriend number one, a solid catch as a business major, although a stolid sexist. "I just couldn't see the relationship going anywhere," Jennifer replies. I realize that real people say lines like this but I've never been able to untangle the web of connotations they drag along behind them. How does a relationship "not go anywhere"? For that matter, how does it "go anywhere"? How would Jennifer be able to tell the difference if it started moving, a sentient entity, of its own accord? What is the operational definition of a relationship's "going somewhere"? What steps would it have to take to convince Jennifer that it was on the move? Is the expression "not going anywhere" nothing more than an oblique way of saying Adam doesn't want to get married? Kind of like -- he's "a man who won't commit?" I'm stumped, but let it pass.
There are a lot of hints that Adam is a complete fruitcake who wants to murder somebody in order to get "inside the mind" of a murderer but when challenged he comes up with a plausible explanation. Adam is fairly bright too. When first introduced to the business student (who spurns the offer of his hand) he insults him by quoting Thorstein Veblen, whom boyfriend number one seems never to have heard of. It doesn't do anything but irritate number one, although he ought to be ashamed of himself for not doing his homework. (Veblen was a brilliant but erratic macroeconomist who taught at the University of Missouri while wearing an old-fashioned pince-nez and mumbling down into his notes on the lectern so no one beyond the third row could hear him. He never gave a grade higher than C. He should be recognized for those traits alone.)
Rolling right along now, Jennifer decides she needs help. She goes to her psychology prof who listens with some interest at first but then palms her off with some facile solipcism -- there are as many universes out there as there are minds. What the hell is he saying? His student has reason to believe somebody's going to be murdered. She talks to her mother on the phone about the problem. Does mother listen and try to help? Or does she needle Jennifer about giving the business student his walking papers? Guess. She talks to her friend, Natalie, who may be the object of Adam's murderous intentions and Natalie dismisses the problem too -- he was always kind of weird. The police? They throw the murder manuscript aside and tell her there's nothing they can do without evidence of conspiracy to murder. She goes back to her prof who tells her she should talk to the police and that there's nothing he can do to help her (then without a parting line he leaves her and walks away). This business of a woman being desperate for help but being unable to find anyone who believes is absolutely one hundred percent by the book in these movies, from the glossy "Rosemary's Baby" to the clumsiness of this effort.
Of the performances, only Adam the madman's stands out as adequate. Jennifer seems always aware that she is in a movie. Boyfriend number one overacts his part, and the actress playing the black detective hasn't been asked to rein in her onscreen hysteria. However, if you're looking for something to while away the time, if you don't mind thoughtless commercialism, if you like intrigue, victims trapped and helpless struggling against their circumstances, you might want to watch this.