Sleeping With The Enemy Review
Julia Roberts plays Laura, an impressionable and fragile woman who is married to a very rich and successful businessman named Martin Burney (Patrick Bergen). Having been married for nearly four years, Laura has become a pale shadow of herself, and has become almost resigned to being a prisoner housewife in their luxurious beach house. Martin's neurotic behaviour has started to border on the psychotically violent, and if the slightest item such as a towel is found out of place within the house, Martin then punishes Laura with a beating. Laura isn't even allowed a full-time job, with Martin only allowing her three mornings a week as a librarian. One night, the couple and a doctor friend decide to go sailing, and problems occur onboard due to stormy weather. As the doctor and Martin man the boat, Laura takes the opportunity to dive overboard. She is then feared dead and a funeral occurs in her memory. Martin is completely unaware that Laura has faked her own death and fled to live her new life. Soon, Laura, now living under the assumed name of Sara Waters, has started to rebuild her life, although various coincidental circumstances may suggest to Martin that she is still alive, and he won't let her go.
Sleeping With The Enemy sounds like a TV movie, feels like a TV movie and is no better than a TV movie. Indeed, had it not been for the casting of Julia Roberts as Laura Murney it would be nigh on impossible to imagine the film actually being shown in cinemas. Although Roberts turns in an acceptable performance, Patrick Bergen is absolutely dire as Martin, and even though he can look menacing at times, his handling of dialogue is straight out of the daytime-TV-soap-opera handbook. Kevin Anderson has a nice small supporting role as Laura's safe haven in Ben, but his role is still quite underdeveloped, and his character is still too kooky to get used to. Another problem with Sleeping With The Enemy is the quick pacing of major plot developments. It never translates well enough on screen that Laura and Martin have been married for over a month, let alone four years, and before you know it, she has already faked her own death and moved on. This is actually the biggest problem with the film, in that all of the characters are forced to reduce themselves to blatant stereotypes, which is in essence what places the film amongst mediocre TV fare. The music score by Jerry Goldsmith can be haunting at times, and is possibly the best element of the film, maybe in competition with the nice cinematography by John Lindley.
Sleeping With The Enemy is an extremely dated, uninspired and underdeveloped thriller that offers nothing new to anyone in 2001, not that it did ten years ago when it was first released. It should be avoided unless any completist fans of Julia Roberts haven't picked it up yet.
The picture contains a very nice 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that has a low amount of glitches if any. The photography, although pleasant looking, has a dated early nineties look to it, but this is not the fault of the transfer which is on the whole quite splendid.
Presented in Dolby 2.0 surround, the audio mix of Sleeping With The Enemy is very good with regards to surround effects. Dialogue is kept firmly within the centre, but other effects such as crashing waves and seagulls flocking surround the left and right sides nicely.
Sound-Bites: A selection of edited sound-bites from the cast members. The interviewers cannot be heard, and the sound-bites are edited in a random way and thus subjects change drastically. All of the selections last under two minutes, and feel like they are imported directly from an EPK. Even so, the selections feature Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergen, Kevin Anderson, Joseph Rubin and Leonard Goldberg.
Theatrical Trailer: An acceptable trailer that manipulates the thriller elements of the film.
Sleeping With The Enemy is definitely not a classic and I doubt whether it will appeal ahead of other releases on someone's shopping list. The video and audio transfers are very good on the whole and 20th Century-Fox deserve credit for this, even if the extras are severely lacking.