In Sleeping with the Enemy, a chilling look at marital abuse gives way to a streamlined thriller [from the novel by Nancy Price] delivering mucho sympathy for imperiled heroine Julia Roberts and screams aplenty as she’s stalked by her maniacal husband.
Laura (Roberts) appears to be a perfect doll wife dwelling in an isolated Cape Cod beach manse with successful financial consultant Martin (Patrick Bergin). In fact, he’s an overbearing control freak.
She’s actually been plotting her escape for a long time. One night she gets her chance, slipping off a sailboat during a storm and swimming ashore while her husband believes she’s drowned.
But Martin comes up with enough peculiar clues to believe he’s been had. Soon after Laura, who’s renamed herself Sara Waters, is ensconced in an idyllic Iowa college town and forging a friendship with a sweet-natured drama teacher (Kevin Anderson), the menacing Martin is on the trail.
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Ironically, it’s Laura’s poor, blind, stroke-ridden mother (Elizabeth Lawrence) who points Martin toward her door, and once there in indulges in some unique forms of fetishistic terrorism.
Roberts is terrific in a layered part. Anderson brings an edge to the nice-guy-next-door role, and the dark, dashing Bergin is chillingly twisted.