6.3/10
47,201
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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
4,693 ( 1,035)
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:

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 »

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

Martin displays the classic cycle of spousal/partner abuse with Laura. First, the building of tensions, which continually increase between a couple, ultimately culminating in an abusive episode. After an incident, the abuser has released built-up tension, and thus the abuser is usually incredibly remorseful. This leads to the honeymoon period, which is characterized by apologizing, promising it will never happen again, and/or gifts. Finally, there is calm in the relationship for a time until tensions build again. Where Martin departs from the pattern is that his behavior is pathological, in that he is a true sociopath. In other words, there is a genetic defect that affects the way that the brain is wired, and which is untreatable. As such, he doesn't feel genuine guilt, shame, remorse, or empathy. He is not capable of recognizing his own faults and is incapable of taking responsibility for his actions. All of his actions, even the seemingly benign ones, are ultimately self-serving, an example being his gift of the red negligee, which was not for his wife but for satisfying his own sexual desires. If he beats her, he sees it as a quarrel. If she fails to conform to his standards it is because she is at fault. While "normal" cases of spousal abuse are abhorrent and are routinely life-threatening, cases in which the abuser is a genuine sociopath are rare. Nearly half of all female homicide victims are killed by a current or former dating partner, according to a 2017 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See more »

Goofs

When Martin has Symphony Fantastique playing in Laura's home at the end, it inexplicably vanishes when Ben arrives. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Alternate Versions

Much of the violence and sex is removed in the version aired on broadcast television. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Orange Is the New Black: Mischief Mischief (2018) 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

See more »

User Reviews

 
By-the-numbers thriller is boosted by good performances.
8 December 1999 | by gridoonSee all my reviews

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 above-average.


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