Sleeping with the Enemy

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Sleeping with the Enemy
Sleeping With The Enemy.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Ruben[1]
Screenplay byRonald Bass
Based onSleeping with the Enemy
by Nancy Price [2]
Produced byLeonard Goldberg
CinematographyJohn Lindley
Edited byGeorge Bowers
Music byJerry Goldsmith
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 8, 1991 (1991-02-08) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$19 million[3]
Box office$175 million[3]

Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson. The film is based on Nancy Price's 1987 novel of the same name.[2] Roberts plays a woman who fakes her own death and moves to escape from her controlling abusive husband, but finds her peaceful new life interrupted when he discovers her actions and tracks her down from Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Sleeping with the Enemy was released theatrically on February 8, 1991, where it received negative reviews from the critics, but was a box office success, grossing $175 million on a production budget of $19 million. The film also broke the record at the time for the highest domestic opening for a film with a female lead, grossing $13 million on its opening weekend surpassing the previous record held by Alien, which grossed $10 million in its first weekend.


Laura Burney has a seemingly idyllic life and perfect marriage to Martin, a successful Boston investment counselor. Beneath Martin's charming, handsome exterior, however, is an obsessive and controlling personality who has physically, emotionally, and sexually abused Laura throughout their nearly four-year marriage. Then, in a recurring pattern, he apologetically showers her with flowers and gifts.

Martin accepts the invitation of their neighbor, a doctor, for an evening sail, despite knowing Laura fears water. As a severe storm unexpectedly rolls in, Martin and the doctor struggle to control the vessel. Laura, unable to swim, is swept overboard. After an extensive Coast Guard search, Laura is presumed dead from drowning and Martin is inconsolable.

After some time, Laura is actually alive. After secretly learning to swim, she planned to fake her own death to escape Martin's abuse. During the storm, she jumped overboard, swam ashore, and returned home. She cut her hair, donned a wig, took her stashed belongings and money, and headed to the bus station.

Laura moves to Cedar Falls, Iowa. Previously, she told Martin that her blind, stroke-impaired mother, Chloe, died, but secretly moved Chloe to an Iowa nursing home. She rents a house, finds a job, and settles into a new life as "Sara Waters". Her friendly next-door neighbor, Ben Woodward, a young drama teacher at a local college, is attracted to Laura, though he suspects she has a troubled past. They have a fun date, but when a kiss turns more physical, Laura resists and demands that Ben leave. She later confides to him that she escaped an abusive marriage.

Martin receives information indicating Laura may be alive. This is confirmed when he finds Laura's wedding ring, where she had flushed it down the toilet but it had failed to flush. He travels to Chloe's nursing home, posing as a detective, and learns that Chloe's "nephew" has just visited. Laura, disguised as a man, is also at the nursing home, and barely misses encountering Martin. Martin discovers Laura's whereabouts and learns about Ben. He trails the couple to Laura's house and breaks in while she and Ben are outside. Laura notices the small clues Martin deliberately left inside the house, the hand towels being perfectly aligned and the contents of the kitchen cabinets rearranged to Martin's exact standards.

Martin confronts Laura and Ben breaks down the door and struggles with Martin, who knocks him unconscious. As he aims a gun at Ben, Laura distracts him, then knees his groin. She grabs Martin's gun and holds him at gunpoint. As Laura calls the police, Martin expects her to tell the police to protect her from him, as she had done in the past, but Laura shocks Martin by informing the police she killed an intruder, and then shoots Martin three times. Wounded from the shots, Martin seizes Laura by the hair and grabs the gun, aiming it at her in a desperate attempt to kill her, but his attempt fails, as the gun turns out to be empty. Martin then dies from his wounds, while Laura and Ben embrace and wait for the police.



Critical reception[edit]

As of September 2022, the film held a 19% "Rotten" rating based on 36 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states: "A game Julia Roberts gives it her all, but Sleeping with the Enemy is one stalker thriller that's unlikely to inspire many obsessions of its own."[4]

Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars upon its release, calling it "a slasher movie in disguise, an up-market version of the old exploitation formula where the victim can run, but she can't hide."[5]

Box office[edit]

The film's opening ended Home Alone's twelve week run atop the box office.[6] 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.[7] The film was released in the United Kingdom on April 12, 1991, and opened on #2, behind Highlander II: The Quickening.[8] The next week, the film remained in the same position.[9]


The original music for the film was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. Columbia Records released an album concurrently with the film containing just over 38 minutes of score plus the Van Morrison song "Brown Eyed Girl". In 2011, La-La Land Records issued a limited edition album of 3500 copies expanding Goldsmith's score (but omitting the song).

Home media releases[edit]

The film reached #1 in the rental charts in September 1991.[10] It was released on LaserDisc in Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan by Fox Video in 1991.[11] It also received various releases on VHS, was released on DVD on 2 September 2003, and subsequently entered the market of Blu-ray in June 2011. As of October 2020, it still hasn't been released on 4K.[12][13]


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).


In February 2019, it was reported that a remake of Sleeping with the Enemy was in development at Fox Searchlight Pictures, with Nia DaCosta helming the project.[14] However, there have been other remakes of the film shown below.

Year Film Language Cast Director
1995 Yaraana Hindi (India) Rishi Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Raj Babbar David Dhawan
1996 Agni Sakshi Hindi (India) Jackie Shroff, Nana Patekar, Manisha Koirala Partho Ghosh
1996 Daraar Hindi (India) Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Arbaaz Khan Abbas-Mustan
1996 Bhoy Bengali (India) Chiranjeet Chakraborty, Debashree Roy and Shankar Chakraborty Chiranjeet Chakraborty
1997 Pelli Telugu (India) Naveen, Maheswari, Prudhvi Raj Kodi Ramakrishna
1997 Maduve Kannada (India) Ramesh Aravind, Charulatha, Kumar Govind V. Umakanth
1997 Khilona Urdu Meera, Saud Sangeeta
1997 Sagorika Bangla (Bangladesh/India) Amin Khan, Helal Khan & Rituparna Sengupta Badol Khandakar
Ranga Bou Bangla (Bangladesh/India) Amin Khan, Humayan Faridi & Rituparna Sengupta

Mohammad Mohsin

1998 Ulka Bangla (Bangladesh) Mousumi, Masum Parvez Rubel & Omor Sani

Gazi Mazharul Anwar

1998 Aval Varuvala Tamil (India) Ajith Kumar, Simran Raj Kapoor
2002 Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe Hindi (India) Aftab Shivdasani, Esha Deol, Sanjay Kapoor Vinay Shukla
2008 Mu Sapanara Soudagar Odiya (India) Arindam Roy, Archita Sahu, Sabyasachi Mishra Sanjay Nayak
2012 Luchakali Odiya (India) Babushan, Samaresh Routray & Shreya Susant Mani
2013 "Loobat Al Mawt"(series) ar:لعبة الموت Lebanese, Syrian & Egyptian Cyrine Abdelnour, ar:عابد فهد, ar:ماجد المصري Laith Hajo, Samer Barqawi


  1. ^ Granville, Kari (February 8, 1991). "Joseph Ruben Finally Gets His Crane : Movies: A veteran director of low-budget fare makes it to majors with 'Sleeping With the Enemy.'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Price, Nancy. "Nancy Price - Biography". Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Sleeping with the Enemy at Box Office Mojo Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 8, 1991). "Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)". Chicago Sun-Times – via
  6. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (February 12, 1991). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Sleeping,' 'L.A.' Knock 'Home' Out". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Sleeping with the Enemy at Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ "Weekend box office 12th April 1991 - 14th April 1991". Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Weekend box office 19th April 1991 - 21st April 1991". Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  10. ^ Hunt, Dennis (September 5, 1991). "Video Rental Chart : Sales Reduce 'Home' Rentals". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  11. ^ "Laser Disc Laserdisc Movie Sleeping With The Enemy Julia-Roberts". Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy". DVD Release Dates. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  13. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy Blu-ray". Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  14. ^ Evangelista, Chris (February 26, 2019). "'Sleeping with the Enemy' Remake To Bring The Glory Days Of Trashy '90s Thrillers Into The 21st Century". /Film. Retrieved March 8, 2022.

External links[edit]