This contains spoilers about the movie, but since it was released over twenty years ago, just will just have to deal with it if you choose to read any further.
Today I happened to turn on the television just as the program was changing and the next thing on was Sleeping with the Enemy so I decided that it was time to re-watch it. It has been at least ten years since I last saw this movie, and I know that I watched it multiple times back in school because I had it taped on a VHS (which I still have because I never get rid of movies or tapes, I know I'm weird). Re-watching this move, I realize why I like Lifetime movies because looking at this now it seems more like a made for TV movie then a big theatre release.
Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1991 Julia Roberts movie, where she plays the abused wife, Laura Burney, who works to escape her abusive husband and start a new life with a new name. Now that I think about it the plot is very similar to the recent Nicolas Sparks movie "Safe Haven," except she fakes her own death to get away from her husband. The movie starts with introducing Laura a housewife who lives in beach house with her husband. Slowly you discover that their relationship is not what it should be and that she has been emotional and physically abused by her husband Martin, played by Patrick Bergin. She is persuaded by her husband to take a sail with a new neighbor even thought she is afraid of the ocean and cannot swim. When they hit rough weather, she is found to no longer be onboard and her husband searches to find her. This all turns out to be an opportunity that Laura took to fake her own death and escape from her husband. She had secretly been learning how to swim, jumped overboard and ran away. She starts a new life in a rural town, where she meets Ben, played by Kevin Anderson. She works to regain her trust and feelings of safety but this doesn't last long because Marvin discovers by people he didn't know his wife knew contacting him and then him finding her discarded wedding ring in the toilet. Marvin is able to hunt her down and threatens her but she is able to overcome him and take her life back.
This movie is totally structured and filmed like a made for television Lifetime movie and I love it for that. I think that Julia Roberts is fantastic in it and plays the skittish animal very well. It was made during the time where she was the big young actress and at this time she is still genuine in her presentation. The thing I have difficulty with Julia Roberts when I see her now, is that it seems like she has become a caricature of herself but in this movie she has not yet developed this superficially polish.
This movie is really focused on Julia Roberts and everyone else is a supporting character to her journey and struggle. There is some over emphasis on setting up the tension of the scenes and there are some times where there really is the focus on the suspense and this works.
Basically this is a great and still good version of the abused women overcomes this and makes her own life movie, and because the focus is on the drama and the journey the change in technology doesn't matter, and the emotional connection is still there because this type of thing still happens today, therefore it didn't seems at all set in its time. Yes the outfits and hairdos are early nineties but it wasn't too big of a deal. The most annoying part was the commercials.
My Rating: 2+