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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)



Reviews and Comments

The story of this creepy thriller about a mentally abused wife fleeing her domineering husband is nothing particularly new. The initial escape is satisfying and done well, but from there on, there's not much originality on the screen. I yawned tiresomely when the New Love Interest showed up, the man who is infinitely patient and understanding with his newfound love's rehabilition from traumas unknown to him. This plot point is not inherently bad, but so many movies, including this one, don't pull it off without stirring up an unreal aura that's either missing its place or its purpose -- I don't know which.

That's a minor quibble. The climactic scenes are much worse, drawing upon every known thriller cliche and pumping them endlessly until the credits roll.

Now that I've ripped Sleeping With the Enemy apart, let me patch it back together, at least in part. Julia Roberts is magnificent in the starring role, and it is thanks to her that this film works as well as it does. Her performance is sincere, heartbreaking, and unforgettable. Secondly, Patrick Bergin's portrayal of her husband is as unnerving and nasty as they come -- the kind of villain movie-goers love to hate. And as I mentioned, the film's first third is alluring and effective. It's just too bad it didn't finish on the same high note.