As straightforward suspense thriller, THE COMPANION evinces an edgy elan. But this made-for-cable-TV feature fails to attain a balance between erotic undertones and the underlying sci-fi riffs about things (wo)men were not meant to tamper with.
Although a successful romance novelist in the 21st century, Gillian (Kathryn Harrold) has less luck with her own philandering boyfriend. For a planned working holiday in a woodland cabin best pal Charlene (Talia Balsam) engages an alternative companion for her: a lifelike male robot from Personal
Electronics. Skeptical at first, Gillian comes to rely on Jeffrey (Bruce Greenwood), her perfect "man" about the house. While progressing with the latest bodice-ripper, Gillian programs Jeffrey to be less robotic and more conversational. Gradually upgrading his duties (with a few notable
exceptions, like swimming ability) to ultimately sexual pleasure and a simulcrum of love, Gillian counts her blessings--until the increasingly possessive Jeffrey starts calling the shots. When visiting Charlene arrives and questions Jeffrey's independence, the companion kills her. The next
would-be rescuer to go is a neighbor, priggish, macho sculptor Ron (Brion James, who did the android bit himself in BLADE RUNNER). After escape attempts fail, Gillian sweet-talks her mechanical swain into a lakeside picnic, where she fakes drowning. Crestfallen Jeffrey tries to self-destruct but
runs amok instead. With Ron's projectile-firing sculpting tool (introduced so portentously early on that one intuitively knows it will be used as a weapon), Gillian obliterates her obsessed lover/appliance.
Rapport between Harrold's lonelyhearts romantic and Greenwood's synthetic Romeo is so appealing that viewers may root for them to find happiness in this bizarre mixed marriage. But in opting to scare us with Gillian's mechanical misalliance, the screenplay botches the opportunity to present the
sci-fi dilemma tragically. Instead of building on each succeeding jittery episode and portraying a dangerous erotic vortex, THE COMPANION turns into a standard stalker flick. Much too wordy for a chiller, the awkward screenplay should have donned a darkly comic mantle as Gillian and her honeymoon
machine parody human relationships and all the attendant jealousy that comes with newly-ignited passion (Jeffrey takes his cues and attitudes directly from the romance author's purple prose). After Gillian's swim for liberty, the movie exhibits FRIDAY THE 13TH syndrome as disfigured Jeffrey rages
about and crushes a concept that had promised to skewer the ambiguities that plague romantic entanglements. THE COMPANION winds up a Consumer Reports fright flick about a defective purchase. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: As straightforward suspense thriller, THE COMPANION evinces an edgy elan. But this made-for-cable-TV feature fails to attain a balance between erotic undertones and the underlying sci-fi riffs about things (wo)men were not meant to tamper with. Although a… (more)