Chabert's Bikini Madness
As a child Emma (Lacey Chabert - Elevator Girl) had an imaginary friend who helped her deal with her abusive father who constantly berated her for speaking to someone who wasn't there. Now grown up Emma is a fragile woman who is scared of people, scared of leaving her home and cared for by her husband, Brad (Ethan Embry - Eagle Eye). But when Emma starts seeing her imaginary friend again her life starts to spiral out of control as Brad tries to persuade her to take a stay in a psychiatric hospital.
Some may consider it a spoiler to say that "Imaginary Friend" is all about a husband trying to make his wife think she is mad so that he can get his hands on her money and move in with his lover but it is not only obvious that this is what the movie is about but it is only half the story. What that means is that we have another movie which is basically a variation on "Gaslight" as we watch Brad manipulate Emma to make her more fragile than she truly is. But where this initially differs is whilst Brad is controlling and gets into his wife's head with thoughts of being unable to cope he also has a former patient and lover to pretend to be Emma's imaginary friend. It's a nice twist on the usual madness storyline and we get a further twist as the storyline evolves into something more.
But here is the problem, there always has to be a problem in made for TV movies like this Lifetime one. Firstly there are some gaping plot holes coupled with major contrivances which make certain things magically happen such as Emma's attorney suddenly withdrawing money from the trust fund which Brad plans to drain. It's easy to work out why he did this but there is no real linkage to explain it leading to this plot weakness. But the biggest weaknesses in "Imaginary Friend" are the escapes from reality because we have this woman masquerading as an imaginary friend who one minute is there and in the blink of an eye disappears, it just too much, too far fetched which is a shame as it is a nice idea just one which ends up poorly worked.
As for the acting, I like both Lacey Chabert and Ethan Embry and Embry's portrayal of a nefarious, manipulative husband is an enjoyable one. But, yes another but, Lacey Chabert is smoking hot, she is cute and sexy and it seems that director Richard Gabai couldn't get passed this because between lots of beautifully framed shots of Chabert as Emma we get many shots of Chabert in a bikini with wetted back hair to the point at times it seems almost exploitative. Now if "Imaginary Friend" was a sexy thriller I could understand all these bikini scenes but they end up standing out for the wrong reasons no matter how hot Chabert looks.
What this all boils down to is that "Imaginary Friend" features a nice idea, a nice twist on the old manipulative husband storyline with a focus on an imaginary friend and a twist ending. But certain things fail it from gaping plot holes to an element of fantasy which jar with the rest of the movie.