Sleeping with the Enemy

Sleeping with the Enemy Information

Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1991 psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts. The film is based on Nancy Price's 1987 novel of the same name. Roberts plays a woman who escapes from her abusive, obsessive husband from Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she captures the attention of a kindly college drama teacher.


Laura Burney (Julia Roberts) lives in a beautiful home by the beach on Cape Cod with her husband, Martin (Patrick Bergin), a charmingly handsome and wealthy investment counselor who is also possessive, abusive, and controlling. It becomes clear that he has OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder), and while she tries to abide by his needs, she seems to suffer under the strain. Martin believes Laura has been flirting with an attractive neighbor, and he physically assaults her as punishment. The abuse is an ongoing routine, which began immediately after their wedding. To escape Martin, Laura plans and fakes her own death at sea in a storm while the couple are boating. Laura had deliberately led Martin to believe that she could not swim, so he believed she had died once she was lost overboard. However, having recently taken swimming lessons at the YWCA she was able to swim safely to shore. She secretly returns home, retrieves some clothing and cash she had hidden away in preparation, disguises herself, and leaves home after flushing her wedding ring down the toilet.

Laura moves to Cedar Falls, Iowa. In preparation, she has told Martin that her mother, Chloe Williams (Elizabeth Lawrence), died, and pretended to attend the funeral, but secretly she had moved her to a nursing home in Iowa. She rents a modest house and adopts the name Sara Waters. In Cedar Falls, she meets Ben Woodward (Kevin Anderson), who teaches drama at the local college. A relationship develops, but suffers a setback when Ben discovers that her real name is not Sara. After a date, Laura is unable to be physically intimate with Ben, and the next day, she confesses that she is on the run from an abusive husband.

Meanwhile, Martin receives a chance phone call from a friend of Laura's from the YWCA and learns of Laura's swimming lessons. His suspicions aroused, Martin heads home and finds Laura's wedding ring in the toilet bowl where it failed to flush. From the Cape Cod nursing home, he learns that Laura's mother is alive, and has her traced to the nursing home in Iowa. He visits Laura's mother without revealing his identity and learns from her that Laura is seeing a college drama teacher in Cedar Falls.

Martin finds Laura and Ben at a local fair, then follows her to her home. After leaving idiosyncratic clues around the house for Laura to find, Martin confronts Laura. Ben appears at the door and Martin, brandishing a gun, threatens to kill Ben if she doesn't make him leave. Laura talks to Ben and he appears to leave, but then breaks down the door and struggles with Martin, who knocks him unconscious. As he aims the gun at Ben, Laura distracts and attacks Martin, who drops the gun, and she manages to take control of it; she fires at Martin but misses.

Laura holds Martin at gunpoint while she calls the police. She then tells the police that she just killed an intruder, hangs up the phone and shoots Martin three times.

When Martin falls to the ground she drops the pistol and collapses, sobbing. Martin, not yet dead, picks up the gun and tries to shoot her but the gun only clicks empty. Then Martin dies. Ben is revived by Laura and they embrace as Martin's dead body lies on the ground with Laura's wedding ring inches from his hand.


  • Julia Roberts as Laura Williams Burney/Sara Waters
  • Patrick Bergin as Martin Burney
  • Kevin Anderson as Ben Woodward
  • Elizabeth Lawrence as Chloe Williams
  • Kyle Secor as Fleishman
  • Claudette Nevins as Dr. Rissner


Critical reception

Sleeping with the Enemy received mixed to negative reviews; the film currently holds a 23% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Famed critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars upon its release.

Box office

The film's opening ended Home Alones 11-week #1 run at the box office. By the end of its run, the film had grossed $101,599,005 in the domestic box office; with an international total of $73,400,000, the film's worldwide gross was $174,999,005; based on a $19 million budget, the film was a box office success.

Home media

The film reached #1 in the rental charts.


The score by Jerry Goldsmith won the BMI Film Music Award, 1992, and the film was nominated for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award for 1992 in four categories: Best Actress (Roberts), Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor (Bergin), Best Horror Film and Best Music (Goldsmith).


Year Film Language Cast Director Box Office
1995 Yaraana Hindi Rishi Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Raj Babbar David Dhawan Below Average
1996 Agni Sakshi Hindi Jackie Shroff, Nana Patekar, Manisha Koirala Partho Ghosh Hit
1996 Daraar Hindi Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Arbaaz Khan Abbas-Mustan Flop
1997 Khilona Urdu Meera, Saud Sangeeta Hit
1998 Aval Varuvala Tamil Ajith Kumar, Simran Raajkapoor Average
2002 Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe Hindi Aftab Shivdasani, Esha Deol, Sanjay Kapoor Vinay Shukla Flop
2013 Korean Im Sang-soo

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sleeping_with_the_Enemy" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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