Saturday, January 9, 2016

Only now does it occur to me... SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Only now does it occur to me... that SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY tries to do for drinking fountains what PSYCHO did for showers!

To illustrate my point, here are a few screen captures from two separate scenes in the film, both featuring the delightfully psychopathic Irish character actor Patrick Bergin (PATRIOT GAMES, LAWNMOWER MAN 2), of whom I had never taken particular notice.  My mistake.  This guy is fantastic.

He's fully and incredibly committed to his scary fountain slurping. Those are, I dare say, Eric Roberts levels of commitment.  In one scene, he screams "LAURA!  LAURA! LAURA!" over and over, probably thirty times, each time as impassioned as the first.

There's another drinking fountain scene with Julia Roberts in raggedy drag, unaware that (her stalker ex-husband) Bergin is in line behind her.

Immediately thereafter, the drinking fountain (who by now is, for all intents and purposes, a character in the film) takes revenge by squirting Bergin in the eye.

Whereupon he reacts with appropriate menace.

Scary stuff!  In case you were wondering what all this is about, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY (directed by Joseph Ruben, who did THE STEPFATHER) is one of those early 1990s "domestic thrillers" that were so ubiquitous to the period (see also: MALICE, PACIFIC HEIGHTS, PRESUMED INNOCENT, PAST MIDNIGHT, BITTER MOON, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, CONSENTING ADULTS, etc., etc.).

Julia Roberts plays a bored yuppie housewife who is not merely bored, but in fact the captive of her terrifying OCD yuppie husband (Bergin) who is equal measures "violent Bret Easton Ellis character" and "militant neat freak."  Here he is discovering a slightly misaligned bathroom towel.  (Spoiler alert: it was Julia's fault!)

There's a surprisingly solid Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack in here too, but mostly SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is a vehicle for Bergin to glower into the distance with a deranged expression.

This deranged expression.

Honestly, I only rented this movie because I was hoping for some "schmacting" flourishes from Julia Roberts (in the vein of THE PELICAN BRIEF) but the truth is she puts in a solid turn.  Instead, I ended up one Bergin the richer!


gweeps said...

Now that you mention it, they don't make movies quite like this anymore. Well, Gone Girl had a domestic thriller vibe to it. And the remake of Dial M for Murder from 1998 with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. Oh, and I can't forget Viggo Mortensen! One of cinema's best chameleons.

And I'd agree about Roberts. Here she gives a good turn as an abused spouse. But Bergin definitely was the star. Though he's one of those actors that remind me of other actors.

Happy new year, and thanks again for this site!

Sean Gill said...

Good to see ya, Gweeps. Yeah, this was definitely a fun, early 90s subgenre and quite similar to the sex-thriller neo-noirs of the era (BASIC INSTINCT, SLIVER, FATAL ATTRACTION, BODY OF EVIDENCE, COLOR OF NIGHT, etc.), and I'm glad that small elements of these have persisted through the years--a lá GONE GIRL, and I daresay THE PAPERBOY.

"Though he's one of those actors that remind me of other actors."


J.D. Lafrance said...

Yeah, Bergin made quite the impression in this one... maybe too good. Didn't he get typecast in this kind of role afterwards? I can't seem to recall anything else he did except wasn't he in the "other" ROBIN HOOD movie that came out opposite Kevin Costner's magnum opus?

Sean Gill said...


So it would seem, though I haven't seen may of them (not the ersatz ROBIN HOOD, nor the LAWNMOWER MAN 2). I did see the weirdo TV movie of FRANKENSTEIN (with Bergin as the doc and Randy Quaid as the monster), and am wondering if it is as insane as I remember.