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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sleeping with the Enemy (Released in 1991) - Starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson

Released in 1991, this psychological thriller is based on a novel of the same name, by Nancy Price. Directed by Joseph Ruben, the movie’s star cast includes Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson. Even though it was a box office success, the movie received many negative reviews. Especially since the beginning of the movie raises expectations of the viewer, only to make it come crashing down through the remaining one and a half hours of the movie.
The plot of the movie starts off with some hope. Laura Burney (played by Julia Roberts) is the wife of a millionaire investment counselor, Martin (played by Patrick Bergin). However, everything in their fancy beach house is not hunky-dory. Trapped in a marriage where she is used as a trophy wife, and then abused at home on account of Martin’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) Laura is looking for a way out. She decides to fake her own death by pretending to have drowned in an accident, when the two of them go boating.
However, having made it known to Martin that she cannot swim, Laura pretends to have drowned and then heads home to grab her “go away” bag and flush her wedding ring down the toilet. She moves to Iowa, under a new name. She even had Martin believe her mother is dead, and then gets her shifted into a nursing home. In her new set up under a new name, she befriends her next door neighbour, Ben Woodward, who also happens to be a drama teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. But soon has to confide everything in Ben, since he finds out that her new identity is not real.
While her life seems to be gradually getting better, Martin gets a phone call at the office from the YWCA about Laura. From that phone call he learns that Laura had secretly been taking swimming lessons, and his doubts start to play up. He goes home and somehow finds the wedding ring in the toilet bowl. It apparently did not get flushed when it was supposed to. He then tracks down Laura’s “supposedly dead” mother and manages to pry information, about Laura’s current location, from her.



He then follows Laura who is seen with Ben to her home. But, before he does so, he visits Laura’s new home and in rearranges methodically Laura’s towels and kitchen shelves in a very “slasher-meets - obsessive compulsive behavior man” kind of way! Laura sees these rearrangements and begins to get worried. Martin having followed Laura and Ben home from a local fair, confronts her while brandishing a gun. What follows is typical, with Ben trying to intervene and getting knocked out in the process. Laura struggling with Martin, somehow managing to get the gun in her control and finally shooting him, after placing a call to 991 stating she has an intruder in the house.
Only Martin isn’t dead, and he tries to take the gun from Laura and shoots. But thankfully by then the bullets in the gun are exhausted along with the audience’s patience. Martin finally dies and Laura and the now revived Ben hug over Martin’s dead body which was holding Laura’s wedding ring.
Having started with some pretty impactful scenes, the movie raises the expectations of the viewer. But, soon it turns into a typical slasher movie. And halfway through, it goads the audience to do the one thing they should not do in such movies, and that is try to find logic. For example, why did that ring not flush itself? Or was that toilet left unused for so many days? Or why and how did the YWCA call up Martin on his office number? Or even what was the point of Martin tracking down Laura only to rearrange towels in her new home?
The movie seems watchable if one keeps their brains aside and doesn’t ask too many questions. But in complete fairness, all the actors have done a wonderful job, especially Julia Roberts as the battered wife looking for a way out. The movie could have been a lot better, and in the opening it feels like it probably is. However, it just seems to miss its mark and falls a bit short of expectations.
Sleeping with the Enemy (Released in 1991) - Starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson

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