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Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

A young woman fakes her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband.



(novel), (screenplay)
3,780 ( 143)

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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Lawrence ...
Harley Venton ...
Sandi Shackelford ...
Mrs. Nepper (as Bonnie Cook)
Graham Harrington ...
Theater Student (as John David Ward)
Sharon J. Robinson ...
Sharon (the Nurse)


Laura and Martin have been married for four years. They seem to be the perfect, happiest and most successful couple. The reality of their house- hold, however, is very different. Martin is an abusive and brutally obsessed husband. Laura is living her life in constant fear and waits for a chance to escape. She finally stages her own death, and flees to a new town and new identity. But when Martin finds out that his wife is not dead he will stop at nothing to find and kill her. Written by Sami Al-Taher <staher2000@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Self-Defense is not murder See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for wife abuse terror and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 February 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dormindo com o Inimigo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)


$101,580,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At the time director Joseph Ruben was hired, Kim Basinger was attached to the project as Laura Burney. She ultimately turned down the part, though, feeling she wasn't right for the role. The character in the end was cast with Julia Roberts. See more »


The cut/bruise on Laura's head comes and goes. After she is hit by Martin leaving a nasty abrasion on the left side of her forehead, he leaves to go to town after telling her they will sail that night. She goes outside to break the lantern, and the wind blows her hair off her forehead - no bruise. Later that night, she has her hair back in a braid, before they get on the boat - no bruise. Then, when she meets Ben a couple days later, she flips her hair off to one side and he sees the bruise. The very next day (or soon after) she has her hair back again with Ben, no bruise. See more »


Martin: I can't live without you. And I won't let you live without me.
See more »


Referenced in 'Halloween': A Cut Above the Rest (2003) See more »


Written by Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca
Performed by Dion DiMucci (as Dion)
Courtesy of Laurie Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Haunting, chilling tale of affluent spousal abuse
16 March 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I found this movie, if not terribly believable, very moving and emotional when I saw it some years back. Julia Roberts brings a real vulnerability to all her roles, and is perfect here as the affluent but both mentally and physically abused wife.

The sad tale revolves around an apparently perfect upper middle class couple who share a beach home...the beautiful young Laura (who has every material comfort) and her obsessive and abusive husband, Martin. Laura lives in terror of her abuser, finally seizing a chance to escape by faking her own death and and fleeing to another town, where she assumes an entirely new identity. Meanwhile, Martin becomes ballistic when he discovers that his wife is not really dead and goes after her...

I admit it, the plot is pretty far fetched, a lot of holes in the story, some events depicted not very believable. Leave your logic behind. Still, I was able to overlook all this and focus my attention on Laura's plight, hoping she could evade (or eliminate) this intellectual brute, and build a new life for herself with a new love.

The portrayal of Laura's terror is vivid as she tries to appease her obsessive husband, who becomes violent if she fails to keep the pantry shelf items in perfect alignment. The most chilling scene of all is the rape, with its accompaniment of Martin's favorite classical music, a piece which thereafter haunts his young wife. No sympathy here for the husband, whose unfolding actions simply go from unspeakable to unthinkable.

Not a particularly believable plot but engrossing, nevertheless, and a pair of vividly drawn characters who elicit strong emotions. However, the best part of this movie is definitely its message. Contrary to the typical image, spousal abuse is no respecter of social class. It would have been much more difficult for me before this film than it is now to picture an affluent, educated, sophisticated abuser.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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