6.2/10
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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.

Director:

Joseph Ruben

Writers:

Nancy Price (novel), Ronald Bass (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
3,370 ( 734)

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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 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, Wide Release

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

It was Patrick Bergin's idea to use composer Hector Berlioz's song, one of his favorite pieces of music, as Martin Burney's song of choice. See more »

Goofs

The cut/bruise on Laura's head comes and goes. After she is hit by Martin leaving a nasty abrasion on the left side of her forehead, he leaves to go to town after telling her they will sail that night. She goes outside to break the lantern, and the wind blows her hair off her forehead - no bruise. Later that night, she has her hair back in a braid, before they get on the boat - no bruise. Then, when she meets Ben a couple days later, she flips her hair off to one side and he sees the bruise. The very next day (or soon after) she has her hair back again with Ben, no bruise. See more »

Quotes

Martin: [Martin accosts drama teacher from the back seat with a gun as he enters his vehicle] Where is she? Please don't make me ask again!
Drama Teacher: I don't... I don't know!
Martin: My wife! She's only my wife... wonderful fuck, isn't she?
Drama Teacher: Mister, you've got the wrong guy!
Martin: That would be disappointing, and I hate to be wrong.
Drama Teacher: Why? Why does it have to be me?
Martin: Because you teach drama.
Drama Teacher: Oh Jesus, God... there must be half a dozen...
Martin: It's you.
Drama Teacher: No, you don't understand. I live with another man! Ask anyone!
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the preview it shows multiple scenes that do not appear in the movie as it was released. There is a scene in which Martin says, "She was the only thing that I ever loved", another in which Ben says, "What is it with you?" and "If you need help, I'm here". See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: They'll Do It Every Time: Part Two (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Circle of One
Written and Performed by Oleta Adams
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products
A division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Industry standard thriller only raised by Roberts' presence
28 July 2008 | by Mr_PCMSee 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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