Sleeping with the Enemy
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Sleeping with the Enemy can be found here.

After four years of marriage to wealthy Martin Burney (Patrick Bergin), Laura (Julia Roberts) can no longer take his abuse and fakes her own death during a sailing accident. Renaming herself Sarah Waters, she flees from their Cape Cod home to Cedar Falls, Iowa where she begins a relationship with neighbor Ben Woodward (Kevin Anderson), the local college's drama professor. Not to be deprived of his battering ram, Martin hunts her down.

Yes. Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1987 novel by Nancy Price.

Laura and Martin lived in Boston, and their vacation home on the beach was located in Cape Cod. Footage was shot at the Shell Island Resort Hotel in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. However, the beach home in the movie was actually a 3,000-foot temporary structure on Shell Islanta, a man-made extension on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. The house overlooked Mason Inlet and nearby Figure Eight Island. After wrapping, 20th Century Fox demolished the house and restored the dunes to their original condition, planting sea oats and beach grass" (from A Film Junkies' Guide to Wrightsville Beach). In the novel, the vacation house is actually a ratty beach cottage, complete with mildew-covered chair cushions.

To create a dark spot along the beach so that she knew where to swim in order to get home quickly and make her getaway while Martin was still out looking for her. We can gather this when she says, "That was the night that I died, and someone else was saved. Someone who was afraid of water, but learned to swim. Someone who knew that the darkness with the broken lights would show the way."

Some viewers have suggested that Dr Fleishman (Kyle Secor) was in cahoots with Laura, that he arranged to take her and Martin sailing, and that he lured Martin away from Laura long enough for her to slip over the side of sailboat during the storm. Other viewers think it happened just the way the movie presented it -- that the doctor only saw Laura and their vacation house from the beach, never met Laura, and his inviting Laura and Martin on his sailboat was simply a coincidence. In the novel, Sara does have a brief encounter with him while she is walking on the beach. They make small talk only, then Sara heads inside to tell Martin that they have a new neighbor. Martin goes outside to greet his new neighbor and comes back with the news that they'll be going sailing that evening. Since Sara met the doctor the same day that he invited them to go sailing with him, it's unlikely that the author of the story meant to suggest that the doctor was part of the plan. It would appear that Fleishman only provided the opportunity for Laura/Sara to put her escape plan in action.

Sometime after the funeral, Martin got a call at his office in Boston from someone offering condolences. She mentions that Laura took swimming lessons with her at the YWCA. At first, Martin thought that it must be a mistake because, as far as he knew, Laura did not know how to swim. Then he drives to the beach house, goes through all her personal records, and notices her wedding ring at the bottom of the toilet. That's when he knows for sure. It's different in the book. The people at the Y don't have her telephone number or even her real name. A woman from the Y sees a photo from her wedding and an article about her death in a newspaper, runs into Martin in a supermarket, recognizes him, and lets it slip that his wife had learned to swim.

He flew to the nursing home in Minneapolis where Laura's mother had been living in order to pump them for information about where Laura's mother Chloe (Elizabeth Lawrence) was buried and about any visitors she might have had, looking for any friends or relatives to whom Laura might have turned. In talking with the administrator. He learns that Chloe isn't dead at all and that Laura had merely moved her to another nursing home, so he hired a private investigator and paid him large amounts of money to locate Chloe, probably something easily done by searching Social Security databases. He learns that Chloe is living in a nursing home in Sioux City, Iowa, so he goes there to look for Laura.

A large ocean-side house like that most likely had multiple bathrooms. Because there were contents on and under the counter, it appears that the bathroom was Laura's personal bathroom, normally unused by Martin. When Martin drives to the beach house from his office in Boston and finds the ring, all the furniture is covered with sheets. He was clearly not living there at the time he finds the ring.

Presumably near Cedar Falls, Iowa. Ben is a drama professor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. It was actually filmed in Abbeville, South Carolina.

No time frame is given in the movie. However, it could be surmised that a few months passed. Consider that the movie starts in a beach-front home on Cape Cod where Laura and Martin are vacationing. When Laura arrives In Sioux City, Iowa, it was still summer in the scenes where kids are cooling off in the fountain and lawns are being watered, and when she is seen sitting on her front porch in early evening, and many scenes indicate it is summer. Yet when Martin showed up at Chloe's previous nursing home in Minneapolis, he's wearing a trench coat and leaves were falling, so it was starting to get cooler. The parade in Sioux City has the look of a patriotic holiday, possibly Labor Day (early September). Summer to fall...a month, at least, possibly two.

How does the movie end?

Laura (now Sarah) goes to the fair with Ben. Martin shows up, sees them, and follows them home. Ben goes to his house and Laura to hers. She takes a bath, all the while feeling a tad suspicious. She climbs out of the tub soaking wet, because the hand towels look suspicious. Ben comes in and scares Laura by accident. Ben and Laura have dinner on the lawn, all the while being watched by Martin. After dinner, she goes home and starts to make toast. She then turns on her tape deck and the scary Berlioz music starts to play, but she shrugs it off. She goes upstairs and notices that she has accidentally left her water in the bathtub running and it is now overflowing. She pulls the drain plug and turns off the water. The fire alarm then goes off. Her toast has started to burn and the toaster is now smoking. She pulls the plug to the toaster and it sparks and the power goes out. She shrieks. The power comes back on. She then notices her kitchen towels are in order. She gets more suspicious and crosses the kitchen floor and reaches the cabinet. Slowly, she opens the doors and realizes that all of her canned goods are in perfect order (they were not before, she always kept them messy so she would not be reminded of Martin). She starts crying hysterically. She runs to the front door. The tape deck is in front of the door and Martin's favorite music is still playing. Martin calmly comes up behind her and says, "Hello Princess." Ben knocks on the door. Martin takes out his gun and tells Laura to answer it but not to say a thing. She tells Ben this is not a good time, she is tired and that she going to bed. Ben suspects something. After she closes the door, he barges through the door and attacks Martin. Martin knocks Ben to the floor, and asks Laura what his name is. Laura tells him his name, and he tells her that "he has nothing to do with us." He goes over to Laura and starts dancing with her. Then he pulls out the wedding ring and says, "This is yours, Princess. I can't live without you, and I won't let you live without me." He kisses her, and she starts to say his name. Laura startles him by kneeing him in the groin and manages to get his gun. She phones the police and tells them that she just shot an intruder. Martin comes closer, and she shoots him. Laura bends down over him, crying, sure that she has killed him, but Martin suddenly grabs her hair and holds up the gun to shoot her. He dies before he can fire the gun. Laura runs over to Ben, wakes him up, and they hug.

Laura and Martin were at the party at the beginning of the movie: Close To You, sung by Maxi Priest. Martin and Laura start to make love and Laura drops the strawberries: Symphonie Fantastique, specifically Op. 14 Part V: Songe D'une Nuit de Sabbat, composed by Hector Berlioz. Ben was dancing on the lawn with the sprinkler: The Jet Song from the musical score of West Side Story Laura and Ben were dancing in the theater dressing room: (1) Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, and (2) Runaround Sue by Dion and the Belmonts. Martin was attacking Laura: Symphonie Fantastique, specifically Op. 14 Part V: Songe D'une Nuit de Sabbat, composed by Hector Berlioz. What's fascinating about the use of Symphonie Fantastique as Martin's theme is that it is about a man who is obsessed with a woman and prone to fits of jealousy and who dreams that he has killed her and sees his own execution. As these dreams start happening, the music gradually gets darker and more twisted. Opening and closing music: Remember This, composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

Some of the differences are minor, e.g., Laura (Julia Roberts) becomes Sara after she moves to Iowa in the movie, whereas the names are reversed in the novel. Ben (Kevin Anderson) in the movie is portrayed as a nice guy, whereas Ben in the novel shows some of the same behaviors that sent her running from Martin (Patrick Bergin) in the first place. In the movie, Laura rents a completely furnished home, has enough money for the first month's rent and security deposit and to paint, redecorate, fill the cupboards with name brand food, and buy a tape deck and African violets for her windows, all before she even has a job. In the novel, she lives on oatmeal and beans while pinching every penny. Probably the biggest difference between novel and movie is that the character in the book is incredibly cautious, while Laura Burney in the movie does what some people could consider "dumb" things, like tossing her wedding ring in the toilet (she takes it with her in the book), taking off the wig as soon as she gets to Iowa (she is constantly disguised in the book), discussing her bad relationship with Ben and revealing to her mother where she is living and who she is seeing (she is tight-lipped about everything in the book), going public with Ben at the carnival (she is never seen in public with Ben in the book), etc.

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