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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8%
Worth A Look44%
Average: 28%
Pretty Bad: 4%
Total Crap: 16%

2 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Sleeping with the Enemy
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by Jack Sommersby

"Contextually Average But Fairly Entertaining"
3 stars

Probably Julia Roberts' best performance and film.

Sleeping With the Enemy, Julia Roberts' first star vehicle after her phenomenally popular Pretty Woman, lacks the dramatic richness and power of Nancy Price's excellent same-title novel, but it's still entertaining though just barely enough to recommend. The screenwriter, Ronald Bass (who penned the abominable Rain Man and the frustratingly-unsatisfying Black Widow), doesn't do a whole lot of delving here in the name of psychological depth; he keeps everything on the surface for the sake of appeasing those who've quite the disdain for even the simplest semblances of complexity -- in other words, everything's blatantly stated with nary any nuance. Granted, there are always some elements in a novel that aren't always transferable to the silver screen, especially in a one-person narrative chock-full of internalized emotional insight as is the case with Price's work; but the structure has been severely simplified so just about everything happens exactly when expected. Surprisingly, though, Roberts, who's usually nothing more than merely adequate, is easier to take than usual, and she plays her role -- that of a wife escaping her rich, abusive husband and finding temporary solace in a small Iowa town where she gradually falls in love with a college drama professor only to find hubby isn't too far behind in his undying quest to reclaim who he avers he owns -- with all the conviction she can muster, which isn't enough but succeeds acceptably enough on a level just above a nice try. Working with a patchwork of a script, underrated director Joseph Ruben, whose previous films (Dreamscape, The Stepfather, True Believer) had real verve, manages to give the movie both pace and tautness despite the inability to glide over certain cringe-inducing moments, like Roberts plopping her wedding ring into the toilet without checking to see if it flushes just so the husband can spot it unflushed several days later or Roberts trying on theatre-costume hats in a montage to the song "Brown-Eyed Girl" which is so utterly asinine you feel Ruben was forced to film it with a gun to his head. Still, Sleeping With the Enemy is marginally satisfying and suspenseful when need be, the dialogue par for the course, the supporting performance by Kevin Anderson (as the drama professor) understatedly appealing, and the score by the great Jerry Goldsmith always in-sync with the film's tones. Not a great movie by a long-shot, but for the most part a passable one that plays way better than it has any right to.

Barely recommendable but recommendable all the same.

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originally posted: 04/29/06 08:42:02
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User Comments

8/29/12 roscoe bergin is a good characte, but he's hardly in it. overall, bland, mediocre 2 stars
9/28/07 Noelle Good movie in all! I have always liked the messing up the cans and towels scene. 4 stars
7/18/07 ES better than 'Enough' 4 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
5/16/06 Roberta Reminds me of the moive Jennifer Lopaz did "Enough." Both where excellent movies! 5 stars
5/09/06 Carolyn Rathburn wonderful suspence, loved it 5 stars
12/22/05 cody a good movie with suspense and drama that pack a punch, my brown eye girl is got a gun man! 4 stars
11/02/04 Tim Hammer This film sucks. It came straight out of a womyn's studies text book and has no surprises. 1 stars
7/10/03 cochese Julia Roberts sucks ass 1 stars
6/10/03 Kelli keeps u watching, but predictable 4 stars
2/09/03 Jack Sommersby Roberts is atypically affecting in this cliched yet taut thriller. 3 stars
2/08/03 Charles Tatum Not one unexpected plot point in the entire overrated mess 1 stars
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  08-Feb-1991 (R)
  DVD: 02-Sep-2003



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