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I love this movie! I read the book and have seen it many times. I note
that the same questions keep appearing over and over. I think by now I
am qualified to answer them, or to at least give my opinions.
**Why does Laura choose to 'flush' her ring down the toilet instead of taking it off while she is in the ocean or pawning it?** Because she is symbolically ridding herself of Martin and their dysfunctional marriage. She is in a hurry to get out of the house and never stops to think that the ring might remain in the toilet bowl. Under the circumstances, would you?
**How did the lady from the YMCA get Martin's work number? And after Martin said he didn't know what she was talking about, why did the lady continue to give Laura's life story?** Martin was a successful Boston businessman. Laura took swim lessons at the Y in Boston for several months and apparently got to know some of the women fairly well. Her name and her husband's name were undoubtedly well known by the time she finished her swim lessons and moved on. It probably only took a look in the Boston phone book to find Martin, as Laura had nothing to hide at the time of the swim lessons (except the bruises, which she explained away) and surely mentioned where he worked, or he had an individual listing. The lady was certain she had the right person when she was talking to Martin, so unfortunately she developed diarrhea of the mouth and provided Martin with too many details.
**Why was the ring still in the toilet when Martin cut his finger months later? Didn't he use the toilet in those months? Or does he have a serious digestive problem?** I am surprised so many people overlooked this: the house at the Cape was the Burneys' weekend/summer home. Martin Burney worked in Boston, and they had a house there where they lived during the week. When his wife "died", Martin immediately closed up the Cape house - hence the coverings on the furniture when he returned months later - and moved to their house in Boston. Guess he didn't have to pee before he left, or he used one of the other bathrooms in the house.
**How did Laura get a house under an alias without a driver's license? What...in Iowa you don't need identification to buy a house or a car? And where did she get the money?** Laura did not BUY a house, she rented it, and for very little, in cash. She apparently bought a used car. As we saw when she returned to the Cape house after faking her death to collect her things and run away, there was a big wad of cash in her travel bag. I don't remember all the details from the book, but obviously she had been saving money all along. She worked part-time at the library in Boston (after her 8:00 a.m. swim lessons, one presumes), so had her own money as well as whatever she could save from the money Martin gave her for groceries, etc. Money talks, in Iowa like anywhere else!
**Just because Laura didn't want to have sex with Ben, Ben asks "Oh my god, what did he do to you?' How the heck does he know that anything happened? What does he have as evidence besides the facts that he called her in a crowd and she didn't respond, and she had a bruise on her head? That's a pretty great assumption to make.** Ben was a perceptive, intelligent guy. He knew right after meeting her that something was seriously wrong in her life and that she was hiding her identity for a reason. He put things together pretty quickly, but figuring out that she was running from an abusive man wasn't exactly rocket science with all the clues she gave out.
**And the thing that really makes me mad. She hears a noise so it must be her husband. Instead of calling the cops or running out of the house...she goes and checks the cabinets to see if all of the cans are neatly arranged. I know that this does happen but if your husband was in your house, what the heck would make you think that he took the time to arrange your cabinet and he's not just going to kill you?** The man had been terrorizing her for four years. She was paranoid. She wasn't thinking clearly and was doubting her sanity. Call it Suspense Movie Syndrome - just gotta look in that dark room/closet!
I think most people tend to overlook how well-done the first 20 minutes of
this movie really are. Ruben carefully builds a creepy atmosphere, relying
on brief glances, moments of silence and quietly expressive performances
(especially by Julia Roberts) to help the viewer understand that, behind the
image of a perfect couple, something is really wrong. Unfortunately, after
Roberts escapes from her husband, the movie turns into a strictly
by-the-numbers thriller, where you can predict almost every development of
the script. It's a visually polished movie, though, and the very good
performances give it a strong psychological center that keeps it
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just bought the DVD of this film and was surprised to find that a graphic scene was removed from the early moments. I remember from seeing the movie in previous times (on television) that when Laura and Martin come home from the party, he begins his little "love-making" session. We see from Laura's expression that her husband is really raping her. This scene is not on my DVD; it ends right after Laura drops the bowl of strawberries. Why was the scene taken out for the DVD? Perhaps there are enough other clues to Martin's true nature but it is odd that this scene, which is one of the first to clue the audience in to the menace of the situation, is missing. The implications of Martin's favorite music and the Pavlovian horror it instills in Laura is somewhat cheapened by the deletion of the rape scene. I know that there are sometimes different edits of films when they are released on television, but I would have expected this sex scene to be taken out for TV, and not for the DVD!
What a great movie. One of Julia Robert's best performances.
The start of the movie seems fine Laura and Martin seem like a happily married couple, then you see a scene where Martin berates her about hanging the bathroom towels out of order and then, Laura desperately tries to arrange the tins in the cupboard exactly right. Everything is definitely not alright when you see Martin punch Laura in the head.
This is the story of how Laura fakes her own death and tries to make a new life for herself.
You really feel for Laura and Martin is a really evil guy, who is portrayed very scarily.
The music is beautiful and sad, one of the loveliest soundtracks I have ever heard.
I really recommend this film to other women, although it is not aimed entirely at the female audience, I feel we get more out of it
Unlike some, I LIKE this lady and this is my favourite film of hers.
After watching it for the nth time I was moved to buy the book on which
it is based and this is a far more complex affair than the film, which
simplifies everything and leaves out several characters altogether. I
think Nancy Price did a far better job of studying an abused wife, who
never really stopped loving her brute of a husband, than the makers of
the film. It depicts Sara/Laura as a far more interesting character
than the somewhat insipid Julia Roberts version.
If you have read the book, then some little touches in the film (i.e. - African Violets) become clearer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Self-defense isn't murder" That was the tag line of "Enough", a film
that didn't know the difference between self-defense and pre-meditated
murder. It would have been a better tag line for "Sleeping With the
Enemy", a movie that does know the difference. Whereas Slim plotted and
planned her husband's violent death, "Enemy"'s protagonist, Laura, acts
in the heat of a moment and, most importantly, her actions are
Laura and Martin have been married for four years, and seem perfectly happy. Unfortunately, Martin's severe Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder and self-confidence issues have put a strain on the marriage. Laura simply can not live up to the standards he needs to keep his OCD under control. If the towels aren't hung correctly on the towel bar, or if the pantry isn't organized just right, he has a fit of uncontrollable anger. When Martin's fits elevate to physical attacks against Laura, she leaves him.
Laura fakes her own death and then begins life anew in a small town with a new identity, and she has a romance with a man named Ben.
Thankfully the movie doesn't try to justify Laura's running away or her adultery, or make her seem perfect; it simply shows the choices she makes. Whether she makes the right choices is all up to your own moral radar, and I like that. If this were "Enough", the case would likely be much different. But this isn't "Enough". This is much, much better.
"Sleeping With the Enemy" is a smart film that actually let's the audience see why Laura feels she has the right to leave Martin. Mostly it has to do with her own inability to deal with Martin's mental infirmities, and that's an understandable problem. OCD can ruin lives, and it can seem overwhelming when you try to help someone who suffers from it. I'm not saying it's right to run away, but her fear is legitimately justifiable. And it's obviously her fear that causes her to overlook the possibility of getting Martin some help.
Her killing Martin is also justifiable. When he bursts into her house with a gun, that provides a reason to kill him. And, what do you know, it makes sense. Do I even have to say the E word again? We all know that movie provides no good reasons for anything that it's characters do. Even though the end of Sleeping With the Enemy is predictable, it's really the only ending the movie can logically come to by that point so I really can't complain, and I'll stay off my soapbox. Besides, I need to save it for when I review "Irreversible."
"Sleeping With the Enemy" has other merits besides the smart script. For one, the cinematography is beautiful, especially in the early scenes at Laura and Martin's beach-front home. I was left saying "Wow." Another selling point is the acting. Julia Roberts, who usually bugs me, does a fine job as Laura. She never takes it into the territory of melodrama or schlock, thankfully. Patrick Bergen, as Martin, does a good job of portraying a sufferer of OCD and, when Laura's ruse is revealed, an enraged husband. He has reason to be angry with Laura for leaving him (or so he believes thanks to his mental issues), plus he has those self-confidence issues that fuel his instability. To some he may seem over-the-top, but to me he seemed very real. Like I said, OCD wrecks those who suffer from it.
My only real problems with the movie were the silly way Martin died (Three bullets, and he's still standing? Please!) and an unnecessary dance number with Laura and Ben. Why is it that some filmmakers deem it necessary to use pointless dance routines to show that two people are in love? And what place do songs like "Runaround Sue" and "Brown-Eyed Girl" have in a movie like this? However distracting those errors may be, "Sleeping with the Enemy" is a fine movie that actually makes the effort to realistically portray real issues. And for that, I commend it.
Laura marries Martin Burney who appears to be the perfect man, he is
handsome and successful, yet the dream of the perfect man becomes a
nightmare as Martin is a control freak who abuses her both physically
and mentally. Once she decides enough is enough she plots her escape by
way of faking her own death by drowning, a new life beckons, but she
will always be looking over her shoulder to see if Martin finds out the
truth and tracks her down.
Thus the vehicle for Julia Roberts pans out as your just above average thriller. It has some decent moments that keep it from drifting into tedium, the set up perfectly portrays the double life that some people lead, on the social circuit it appears the couple are happy and at one with each other, yet behind their own walls there is violence and the crushing of the spirit. The final third of the film is also well worthy of the word thriller, for the tension is nigh on unbearable as we slowly come to the conclusion, whilst Julia Roberts as Laura does a very tidy job as this sort of modern day princess escaping the evil clutches of her keeper. Must mention the great use of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, it's eerie and impacts hard for the scenes it is used for.
Patrick Bergin plays his role well enough, it's just that his villainy is never fully realised, we see enough to know that what he does is wrong, yet it feels a bit too polished. Whilst a sequence that sees Laura dress up as a man is clearly the low point of the film, it really does stretch the viewers patience, and sadly insults their respective intelligence. It's a mixed bag that isn't quite a waste of time, it just doesn't leave you with anything other than a feeling of being semi fulfilled, shame as it could have been brilliant with a bit more bravery and brains in the script, 6/10.
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.
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY resembles the kind of movie they show endlessly on the Lifetime channel. The men are either weak and ineffectual or psychotic.It was rightfully parodied by the movie FATAL INSTINCT. For the most part, the cheese factor is high, with plot devices scattered about everywhere, as well as a number of holes mentioned in other reviews. The characters act the way they do because the story requires them to do so. The scenery is wonderful, particularly at the beginning with the boats and the ocean. Patrick Bergin is great as Julia Roberts's obsessive-compulsive creep of a husband. Roberts has more chemistry with him than anyone else in the movie...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In "Sleeping With The Enemy" things are not always as they appear to
be. On the surface, Laura Burney (Julia Roberts) and her husband Martin
(Patrick Bergin) are a wealthy and contented couple who enjoy a
comfortable lifestyle and spend their leisure time at their luxurious
house by the beach at Cape Cod. In reality though, Laura lives in a
state of constant fear which has been created by Martin's abusive
Martin is a control freak with an obsessive compulsive disorder and a very cold personality. He gets insanely jealous when he imagines that Laura may be attracted to someone else and even exercises control over what clothes she wears. He beats her when her behaviour displeases him and then gives her flowers to show how much he cares about her.
Within this relationship, the terrified Laura appears to be completely obedient and passive but in reality, she has for some time been planning to escape. Her husband knows her as a person who isn't able to swim and has a fear of water. In reality, she's secretly taken swimming lessons and this eventually enables her to fake her own death when the couple are involved in an accident at sea and she falls overboard and disappears.
Laura secretly moves to Cedar Falls in Iowa, changes her name, makes a fresh start and soon meets Ben Woodward (Kevin Anderson) who's a drama teacher at the local college. She enjoys their friendship and also being able to visit her invalid mother at a nearby nursing home.
Martin is under the impression that Laura's mother had passed away some time ago but when he starts to find pieces of information which make him suspect that his wife is still alive, his investigations soon reveal that the reality is somewhat different and that Laura's mother is actually a resident at the nursing home near Cedar Falls.
Laura who seemed to have successfully escaped from her abuser soon discovers that, in reality, her intensely possessive and extremely violent husband will go to any lengths to ensure that she doesn't gain her freedom.
"Sleeping With The Enemy" is an entertaining movie which focuses on a form of violence which is rarely featured in commercial thrillers and maybe it's for this reason that some of scenes in which Laura is beaten seem so shocking, even to audiences whose exposure to on-screen violence has hardened their responses.
Julia Roberts gives a sympathetic performance as a victim of domestic abuse who is trapped in a nightmare from which there seems to be no way out and also convincingly portrays the anxieties which her character continues to experience when she starts her new life in Iowa. Patrick Bergin is believable as a violent psychopath whose need for perfection in all things has grown to an absurd proportion and in addition, Kevin Anderson is good as Ben who in complete contrast to Martin is good natured, sensitive and caring.
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