''Sleeping With the Enemy'' has been beautifully photographed and has Julia Roberts in the leading role. The film is also loaded with implausibilities and, at times, looks like a hokey scare movie.
It is, however, good fun. Some films are just bad and not worth seeing. ''Sleeping With the Enemy'' is not a good film, but it does entertain. It's a crowd pleaser. You'll find yourself talking to it now and then, but you'll enjoy it.
Roberts is a definite asset. She didn't win that Academy Award nomination (''Steel Magnolias'') for nothing. Once more, she makes her material seem newer than it is.
It's the old maniacal-husband theme. It was recently used as a basis for ''The Stepfather'' (directed by Joseph Ruben, who also directed this film).
The husband in ''Sleeping With the Enemy'' is an investment counselor who beats his wife around. The towels have to be hung just so. The cans in the food closet must be precisely arranged. When anything is awry, the husband goes awry and beats his wife to the ground.
She takes it for so long, then, when the opportunity arises, escapes and plays dead. Her husband is fooled for a time, then when he discovers that his wife is still alive, looks for her.
As played by Patrick Bergen (''Mountains of the Moon''), the husband seems weird from the start, but that may be because Bergen, Irish born and London trained, is affecting an American accent that makes him sound strange. This is not the sort of man you would go to for investment counseling.
When Laura (Roberts) relocates, she rents a home next to a drama teacher, nicely played by Kevin Anderson. It isn't a role you will immediately accept, but Anderson, like Roberts, makes you want to believe in the guy.
''Sleeping With the Enemy'' has a particularly nice score, butake all that away, take Roberts and Anderson away too, and you've got a pretty silly movie here, one that is being likened to ''Fatal Attraction'' for good enough reason.
''Sleeping With the Enemy'' opens here today. It is just bad enough to enjoy.
''Sleeping With the Enemy'' ** A young woman, mistreated by her psychopathic husband, fakes her own death to escape him.
CAST: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergen, Kevin Anderson
DIRECTOR: Joseph Ruben
RATING: R (sex, language, violence)
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes