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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)
3,447 ( 710)

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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Lawrence ...
Chloe Williams
Dr. Rissner
Harley Venton ...
Woman on Bus
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


She is a stranger in a small town. She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she's ever met. Her husband. See more »


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)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,777,943, 10 February 1991, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The name of the small sail boat was "DAY DREAM". See more »


The initial scene with the rough sailing leading to Laura's disappearance is quite shoddy. Long-range shots shows the boat in calm waters and with little wind, while close-ups bring us into clearly stormy weather. Besides, the skipper is supposedly a professional, but the way with which he faces the storm and the orders he gives when trying to take the jib down have nothing to do with someone with real sailing experience. See more »


Martin: There's the telephone. You could call the police. I know your every thought, Laura. You're wondering if they can protect you. Who knows? They may issue an order instructing me to stay away from my own wife. Nothing can keep me away. I love you, Laura. I can't live without you. And I won't let you live without me.
See more »


Referenced in Parker Lewis Can't Lose: Rock 'n' Roles (1991) See more »


Dream of a Witches' Sabbath
(5th Movement of "Symphonie Fantastique")
Music by Hector Berlioz
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Haunting, chilling tale of affluent spousal abuse
16 March 2006 | by 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.

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