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Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  8 February 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 33,784 users  
Reviews: 107 user | 36 critic

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)
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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 <>

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?


The name of the circus was "Claude Powell's Super Carnival". Claude F. Powell worked on this film as the construction coordinator in the Art Department. See more »


Laura's hair changes color several times while she is at the beach house. See more »


Laura: [on phone, with gun aimed at Martin] Come quickly. I've just killed an intruder.
See more »


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


Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Industry standard thriller only raised by Roberts' presence
28 July 2008 | by (Sheffield, England) – See all my reviews

One of many standard thrillers that were scattered through the late 80s and early 90s, many of which would star Julia Roberts, and which showed her to be more than just the pretty romantic lead. Here she plays a much stronger character, a woman fleeing her abusive husband to start a new life, strong, independent but still skittish, worried that she might be found.

A tale of beautiful but terrified housewife Laura(Roberts) who resorts to desperate lengths to escape the constant fear of her violent and controlling husband martin (Patrick Bergin) in which she lives – faking her own death to be able to begin a new life far away. However, finding little peace she is still haunted by her previous life, a life which inevitably catches up with her when her husband discovers she is still alive and attempts to track her down.

Roberts can do the strong independent woman role in her sleep and make it appear effortless - a fact proved later with her Oscar win for Erin Brockovich - and in Sleeping with the Enemy she shows the early talent which would eventually lead her to that Oscar win. Meanwhile Bergin is suitably menacing in a rent-a-villain kind of way, all grimacing and intense staring. He does however have a rather interesting tic – a form of OCD- towels all neatly lined up and so on – which could have served as a rather effective tension builder had it been given further development.

However the film itself, while entertaining and diverting enough in its' own right, there is still something very standard and formulaic about the plot. For far too much of the film's (admittedly short) 94-minute runtime we seem to be waiting for the film to get going, and the climax arrives far too late and is too short, wasting the tension which has been built up. In addition, Kevin Anderson as Ben, the white knight who should rescue Laura from her fear, just does not seem to gel with the part – coming off as slightly creepy himself rather than a hero, particularly in the early half of the film.

Overall Sleeping With The Enemy remains a standard typical early 90s thriller of which there were so many, no better or worse than any of the others. A curio for fans of Julia Roberts wishing to see her earlier career development in an effective performance, but the average plot makes the film a throwaway thriller which could serve for a Saturday evening's entertainment with a bottle of wine, but little more. Reasonable, serviceable but forgettable.

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