Sleeping with the Enemy [1991]

This 1991 thriller by Joseph Ruben (True Believer) works up to a point: Julia Roberts plays an abused wife who fakes her death and starts anew under a different identity in Iowa. Her psychopathic husband (Patrick Bergin) figures it out and stalks her and her new boyfriend (Kevin Anderson). The best part of the film is the moody isolation of Roberts's life with Bergin. Ruben ingeniously stakes out the story by presenting what looks like an ideal life between the two--a nice house on the ocean, a seemingly healthy sex life, etc.--and then, whammo! Vital to the plot but less interesting is everything afterward, but that's less an inherent script problem than it is obvious studio pressure to push Roberts as a cute star. There's even a sequence where the actress tries on a series of hats while Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" plays on the soundtrack. Such insistent valentines to Roberts destroys most of Ruben's momentum and the film's credibility, and the project never quite recovers. --Tom Keogh

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