Sleeping with the Enemy

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Sleeping with the Enemy
Sleeping With The Enemy.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Ruben[1]
Produced byLeonard Goldberg
Screenplay by
Based onSleeping with the Enemy
by Nancy Price [2]
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyJohn Lindley
Edited byGeorge Bowers
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 romantic psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson. The film is based on Nancy Price's novel of the same name of 1987.[2] Roberts plays a woman who escapes from her abusive husband, from Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she captures the attention of a kindly college drama teacher.

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 female centric film, 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 financial 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. On one occasion, Martin jealously claims that Laura has flirted with their new Cape Cod neighbor, an attractive doctor she has only glimpsed distantly before physically assaulting her, then later, in a recurring pattern, apologetically showers her with flowers and gifts.

Martin accepts the doctor's invitation 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 apparently swept overboard. After an extensive Coast Guard search, Laura is presumed drowned. A memorial service follows, and Martin is left inconsolable.

It is shown that Laura is alive. After secretly learning to swim, Laura planned her fake death to escape Martin's abuse, waiting for an opportune moment. During the storm, Laura jumped overboard, swam ashore, and returned home. Laura quickly changes her clothes, dons a wig, and gathers some stashed belongings and money before heading to a nearby bus station. Before leaving, she flushes her wedding band down the toilet.

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

Meanwhile, Martin receives information indicating Laura may be alive and that Chloe never died. This is confirmed when Martin finds Laura's wedding ring in the toilet where it failed to flush. Martin travels to Chloe's nursing home, posing as a detective investigating Laura's husband. He learns that Chloe's "nephew" has just visited. Laura, disguised as a man, is also at the nursing home, and, unknowingly, barely misses encountering Martin. Martin discovers Laura's whereabouts and learns about Ben, whom he tracks to the college. Martin later trails the couple to Laura's house and breaks in while she and Ben are picnicking outside. Laura notices the small clues Martin deliberately left inside the house, including straightened towels and the kitchen cabinets rearranged to Martin's exacting standards.

Martin confronts Laura before she can escape. Ben comes to the front door, and to protect him, Laura begs off, claiming fatigue. Ben appears to leave, but breaks down the door and struggles with Martin, who knocks him unconscious. As he aims a gun at Ben, Laura distracts Martin, then knees his groin. Laura grabs Martin's dropped gun and holds him at gunpoint.

Calling the police, she informs them she killed an intruder. Hanging up, she shoots Martin. He collapses, seemingly dead. Still alive, he seizes Laura by the hair and grabs the dropped gun, aiming it at her. Martin pulls the trigger, but the gun is empty. Martin finally dies from his wounds. Laura helps Ben as they wait for the police.



Critical reception[edit]

As of January 2020, the film held a 20% 'Rotten' rating based on 34 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 on in June 2011.[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).


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
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 Badol Khandakar
Ranga Bou Bangla (Bangladesh/India) Amin Khan, Humayan Faridi & Rituparna Delowar
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
Korean Im Sang-soo
2013 "Loobat Al Mawt"(series) ar:لعبة الموت Lebanese, Syrian & Egyptian Cyrine Abdelnour, ar:عابد فهد, ar:ماجد المصري Laith Hajo, Samer Barqawi
2017 Til Death Do Us Part English Annie Ilonzeh, Stephen Bishop, Taye Diggs Chris Stokes


  1. ^ Granville, Kari (1991-02-08). "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 2011-01-11.
  2. ^ a b Price, Nancy. "Nancy Price - Biography". Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  3. ^ a b Sleeping with the Enemy at Box Office Mojo Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^, "[rotten-tomatoes|sleeping_with_the_enemy Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)]", accessed November 30, 2017.
  5. ^ . Ebert, Roger. 1991-02-08 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1991-02-12). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Sleeping,' 'L.A.' Knock 'Home' Out". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  7. ^ Sleeping with the Enemy at Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ "Weekend box office 12th April 1991 - 14th April 1991". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Weekend box office 19th April 1991 - 21st April 1991". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  10. ^ Hunt, Dennis (1991-09-05). "Video Rental Chart : Sales Reduce 'Home' Rentals". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  11. ^ "Laser Disc Laserdisc Movie Sleeping With The Enemy Julia-Roberts". Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy". DVD Release Dates. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy Blu-ray". Retrieved November 6, 2015.

External links[edit]