6.2/10
46,562
119 user 48 critic

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.

Director:

Joseph Ruben

Writers:

Nancy Price (novel), Ronald Bass (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
3,627 ( 651)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Julia Roberts ... Laura Burney
Patrick Bergin ... Martin Burney
Kevin Anderson ... Ben Woodward
Elizabeth Lawrence ... Chloe Williams
Kyle Secor ... Fleishman
Claudette Nevins ... Dr. Rissner
Tony Abatemarco ... Locke
Marita Geraghty ... Julie
Harley Venton Harley Venton ... Garber
Nancy Fish ... Woman on Bus
Sandi Shackelford Sandi Shackelford ... Edna
Bonnie Johnson ... Mrs. Nepper (as Bonnie Cook)
Graham Harrington Graham Harrington ... Minister
John Ward ... Theater Student (as John David Ward)
Sharon J. Robinson Sharon J. Robinson ... Sharon (the Nurse)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Self-Defense is not murder See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 February 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sleeping with the Enemy See more »

Filming Locations:

Abbeville, South Carolina, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,777,943, 10 February 1991

Gross USA:

$101,599,005

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$174,999,005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The song that Ben sings when we are first introduced to him is the musical prologue from "West Side Story" followed by the Jet Song. See more »

Goofs

Laura swims with the "jerky, head-above-water stroke of the untutored" (Ref: Jaws, 1974). Since she was taking swimming lessons, she would have learned to freestyle properly. See more »

Quotes

Laura: 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 there would be one moment, where he wouldn't be watching. Someone who knew that the darkness of the broken lights would show the way.
See more »

Alternate Versions

To receive a 15 rating for UK cinema in 1991, the BBFC removed a minute of footage from the opening sex scene, which brought the film in line with the US theatrical version. This same cut version was passed for release on VHS later in 1991. The uncut version, with the longer sex scene intact, was passed for video release in 1992 with an 18 rating, before the film was re-rated for DVD in 2001 in its uncut form with a 15 rating. However the Blu-Ray release features the cut US theatrical print. See more »


Soundtracks

The Jet Song
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

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