Home > Reviews > SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – Jerry Goldsmith


February 11, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest box office successes of 1991, Sleeping With the Enemy is a psychological thriller directed by Joseph Rubin, written by Ronald Bass from the novel by Nancy Price. Julia Roberts stars as Laura Burney, a Massachusetts housewife whose seemingly perfect marriage to Martin (Patrick Bergin) is shown in private to be a repeating pattern of physical and emotional abuse, gaslighting, and obsessive compulsion. Desperate to escape, Laura fakes her own death in a boating accident, moves to Iowa, and starts a new life under an assumed name. Before long she finds herself attracted to a kind and handsome college professor (Kevin Anderson) and starts a tentative relationship; meanwhile, back in Boston, Martin starts to suspect that Laura is not dead, and begins to make vengeful plans to get his wife back. He can’t live without her, and I won’t let her live without him.

Jerry Goldsmith was so good at music for thrillers such as Sleeping With the Enemy. He somehow managed to get underneath the potboiler plot and emerge with some genuine emotions which make Laura’s plight effective. Her relationship with the controlling Martin is tight and on edge, as if looking for anything out of place as an excuse to explode. The happiness she feels following her escape from his clutches – and the burgeoning relationship she has with the teacher – is filled with blissful relief. And then when the score reaches its climax, wherein Laura is literally running for her life from a man who continually confuses power with love, Goldsmith kicks things into high gear, so the viewer is never under any illusions as to what the stakes are for everyone involved.

The whole thing is wrapped up in a bow with the overarching main theme, which combines pretty see-sawing strings with electronic chimes, and emerges into a lovely, elegant melody for flute and piano, and then eventually the mass of the string section. It is introduced in the opening cue, “Morning on the Beach,” and is one of the loveliest Goldsmith melodies of the decade. The melody itself reappears several times in the score, while the recurrent use of the solo flute throughout the piece appears to be a frequent marker for Laura.

“The Funeral” is a darkly effective piece that oscillates between intense orchestral tension and moments of uplifting hopefulness. The frantic sequence of impressively intense string figures layered against the main theme adds a real sense of urgency to Laura’s escape, and contains a number of recognizable Goldsmith hallmark chord progressions and rhythmic ideas that aficionados will appreciate. “Thanks Mom” begins with a delicate and moving statement of the Laura’s theme, before entering an elongated sequence of dark and suspenseful dissonance that uses string sustains, eerie electronics, pounding pianos, and gongs to excellent effect. “Spring Cleaning” has a pretty, hopeful sound, and a re-orchestrated version of the main theme that adds a tiny bit of playfulness under the melody courtesy of little string and woodwind textures.

“The Ring” is a terrific action cue for the full orchestra, energetic and powerful, with a thrusting string core and interesting use of tubular bells performing a recurring three-note motif. The subsequent “A Brave Girl” offers a spectacular statement of the Laura’s theme, which is given a heroic and uplifting sheen by the inclusion of a sparkling electronic wash, while both “Fears” and “What Did He Do” adorn Goldsmith’s elegant string writing and statements of the theme with an unmistakable air of melancholy and imminent danger.

“The Storm” initiates the film’s all-action finale, and is an imposing track which re-arranges Laura’s theme as a stirring action motif and surrounds it with all manner of impressive orchestral forces, especially some notably beefy brass, but ends on a moment of calm. “The Carnival” is deathly serious, and returns to the unusual synth textures heard in the second half of “Thanks Mom,” as Martin stalks Laura through a traveling funfair with murderous intent. The stabbing explosions of noise that crop up from time to time keep the listener on edge. Everything comes to a head in the conclusive “Remember This,” which underscores Martin’s conclusive assault on Laura’s home, and her resultant battle to survive. Here, Goldsmith takes the unnerving textures from earlier in the score and enlarges them for the full orchestra; after a few minutes of nerve-shredding build-up everything explodes into a cacophony of intense dissonance. The cue ends with a lush, sweeping final statement of Laura’s theme that sighs with relief, and offers a warmly sentimental sense of resolution.

The original soundtrack release of Sleeping With the Enemy featured just under 40 minutes of original score plus a song, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, which plays a major part in the film’s plot. In 2011 the score was expanded to almost an hour by producers Nick Redman and Didier C. Deutsch for La-La Land Records, in a new chronological presentation that features re-mastered sound and comes in a handsome package featuring witty liner notes by Julie Kirgo.

Astonishingly, taking inflation into account, Sleeping With the Enemy was one of the biggest box office successes of Jerry Goldsmith’s career, but for some reason the score has never enjoyed the same level of popularity or acclaim. It’s a shame, because the main theme is really lovely, and Goldsmith cleverly runs it through several emotional variations that mirror the protagonist’s plight. Similarly, the action music – while clearly a step below some of his more flamboyant and crowd-pleasing efforts – is grounded in a fascinating tonal world that makes the irrational Martin a villain to be reckoned with. The 40-minute original score presentation will probably be enough for most people, but whichever version you get there is more than enough to hold the interest. Just make sure you align the spine correctly, flush with the back of the CD cabinet, facing to the left… because, you know, we all forget things. That’s what reminding is for.

Buy the Sleeping With the Enemy soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Morning on the Beach (2:33)
  • The Funeral (3:25)
  • Brown Eyed Girl (written and performed by Van Morrison) (3:06)
  • Thanks Mom (4:27)
  • Spring Cleaning (2:30)
  • The Ring (2:09)
  • A Brave Girl (3:50)
  • Fears (2:57)
  • What Did He Do (2:28)
  • The Storm (3:13)
  • The Carnival (2:54)
  • Remember This (7:56)
  • Morning on the Beach (2:32)
  • No Problem (0:52)
  • Fears (2:55)
  • Roses/You Want Something/Happy Days (2:29)
  • The Storm (3:16)
  • Broken Window (1:02)
  • The Funeral (3:22)
  • A Brave Girl (3:48)
  • Spring Cleaning (2:28)
  • Broken Light (1:05)
  • The Ring (2:04)
  • Sarah Waters (1:01)
  • It Never Started (1:21)
  • Home Alone (0:51)
  • What Did He Do? (2:55)
  • The Disguise (0:47)
  • Thanks Mom (4:25)
  • Don’t Worry/Wrong Man/School’s Out (1:25)
  • The Towels (1:10)
  • The Watcher/He Was Here (2:01)
  • The Carnival (2:51)
  • Remember This (7:58)
  • You Want Something (Alternate Mix) (1:07) BONUS
  • The Carnival (Alternate Mix) (1:59) BONUS

Running Time: 41 minutes 28 seconds – Original
Running Time: 55 minutes 44 seconds – Expanded

Columbia Records 468-162-2 (1991) – Original
La-La Land Records LLLCD-1181 (1991/2011) – Expanded

Music composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. Orchestrations by Alexander Courage. Recorded and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Edited by Ken Hall. Score produced by Jerry Goldsmith. Expanded album produced by Nick Redman and Didier C. Deutsch.

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