December 14, 1998 12:00 PM

Anne Parillaud, William Baldwin

Professional assassin Parillaud, with an uncombed helmet of Pat Benatar hair and an expression of soulless exhaustion, returns to her empty apartment after executing a hit. She hears a suspicious noise and trains her gun on…her cat, which has padded into the room and wants to be fed. “You don’t beg, you insist,” Parillaud (La Femme Nikita) whispers in a tiny, husky voice. “I like that in a woman.”

Obviously this isn’t a movie that expects to be taken seriously. Image, directed by Raul Ruiz, is a playful, occasionally very funny psychological-philosophical thriller in which Mr. Sandman and Dr. Freud pay a joint visit. Parillaud is cast not only as the assassin but also as a bride honeymooning in Jamaica with her new husband (Baldwin). The bride, an emotionally frail woman who suspects she’s being stalked, keeps falling asleep and dreaming she’s the assassin. And when the assassin nods off, she dreams she’s the bride. Who’s dreaming whom? The conundrum is worked out, with all sorts of twists and a cheerful disregard for plausibility, to a satisfyingly outlandish conclusion. (No rating)

Bottom Line: As unreal as a dream, but fun

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