‘Does it give you that much pleasure to humiliate me?‘
Yuppie nightmare. Domestic noir. Or just an old-fashioned thriller. Whatever you want to call it, there is no denying that the genre has died out a little in recent years. This is partly due to Hollywood’s reluctance to take a risk on anything that didn’t start out as a comic book, and partly because the market became saturated in the 80s and 90s. Sleeping with the Enemy is not quite a horror film, although it is often shot like one, but it definitely falls into the thriller camp. And it’s a pretty good one too…
Sara (Julia Roberts) escapes her abusive relationship with Martin (Patrick Bergan) by faking her own death and going on the run. She builds a new life without him, taking the tentative first steps in a long-term relationship with drama teacher and all round nice guy Ben (Kevin Anderson). However, Martin’s monomaniacal obsession with his wife won’t go away.
A fascinating premise then and one that deserves time to breathe. Unfortunately, director Joseph Ruben (working from a script credited to Ron Bass) kind of messes up the execution resulting in a film that feels rushed in places. The third act is pretty great, but you can imagine this as a prestigious TV mini-series now, rather than a 137-minute movie. There is simply too much to pack in here. That being said, Roberts is great in an early role, working hard to ensure that the audience is rooting for her, and Bergan, who I have never knowingly seen in anything else, is genuinely chilling and intimidating as the antagonist – despite (or perhaps because of) his ridiculous moustache.
Movies like Sleeping with the Enemy have fallen out of favour now, and this is a shame because aside from the killer premise, there is loads of other great stuff going on here. It’s almost as if they don’t make movies for adults anymore.