Starring: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson
Director: Joseph Ruben
Running Time: 97 mins
Sleeping With The Enemy is an American film about a woman who escapes her abusive husband and changes her looks and identity to stay safe, but remains anxious as he steps up a relentless pursuit of her.
With the exception of a couple of cagey and tense sequences, Sleeping With The Enemy is a really, really dull film. Starting off with a surprising lack of drama given the urgency of its story, and then unfolding with almost total disregard for the most exciting part of its plot, it’s a movie that squanders the opportunity to tell a riveting thriller story in exchange for some dishy blockbuster romance.
There’s a lot about Sleeping With The Enemy that really disappointed me, but one thing that stood out to me above all was the fact that it tells its story so poorly, when the same story has been told so well in the past.
I’m talking about H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, which in its many different cinematic adaptations looks at the terror of a woman fleeing her abusive husband, while he keeps up a relentless pursuit of her. That story is full of tension, and powerful paranoia, as the main character is always looking over her shoulder to see if today is the day that she’s been caught by her former lover.
Sleeping With The Enemy, however, has none of that tension, and for the most part almost seems to be telling two separate stories – one about the woman and one about the husband – without ever bringing them together as should really be the case.
The only strong moments of the film come when Julia Roberts is just moments away from being caught by her husband, allowing you to feel that terror and paranoia just as The Invisible Man does so well. However, those moments are brief and fleeting, and most of the movie is focused on something entirely different.
The first act is surprisingly dull given that it’s meant to set up the story of a horrible, abusive marriage, but once Julia Roberts escapes that marriage, the movie doesn’t really pick up in any way.
Instead, Roberts changes her identity and entire life, at which point the screenplay decides to make her fall in love with some other guy, while her husband begins his search in the background.
As I mentioned, the two stories are completely separate, with the rather cheesy romance unfolding slowly and in rather tedious fashion, while the husband’s pursuit is occasionally thrown in to add a little bit of intrigue, but none of the tension and drama needed to really make full use of the film’s premise.
And unfortunately, that’s about it for the rest of the movie. With the exception of a pair of genuinely great scenes of tension, there’s nothing particularly interesting about the story between the end of the first act and when the credits start rolling.
With a lack of atmospheric tension, dull characters and an unnecessary focus on romance, Sleeping With The Enemy proves a disappointing watch through and through, all squandering what could have been a genuinely great romantic thriller. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 5.2 overall.