Laura (Julia Roberts) and Martin (Patrick Bergen) have the appearance of a perfect marriage, but shortly into the film it becomes apparent that Laura's presence in their opulent home and decadent lifestyle is as decoration and servant. Moreover, Martin is obsessive, anally clean and ruling tyrannically over his wife; she lives in fear of the brutal punishment that descends when the canned goods are imperfectly lined up or the towels hang unevenly. Through an elaborate plan, Laura stages her own death and escapes to start anew in a small Iowa town, where her next door neighbor's efforts at friendship and burgeoning love slowly chip away at her armor of distrust. But just as Laura begins to relax into her new existence, her past resurfaces in a chilling climax.
Laura's life with her handsome and successful husband seems perfect to those looking at it from the outside. But behind closed doors, Laura resides in a personal hell. Her husband is a psychotic, controlling perfectionist, and his escalating emotional and physical abuse eventually leads the desperate Laura to plot her escape. One stormy night she leaps from the bow of her husband's sailboat and swims for shore. Her husband initially believes that she drowned; meanwhile, Laura "resurfaces" in a college town in Iowa. Attempting to rebuild her shattered life, Laura changes her name, takes a new job in the campus library, and makes friends with a sensitive and sweet drama teacher. But this happiness proves to be ephemeral when her crazed husband gets wise to the deception and turns up in the Midwest determined to bring his wife back home -- whatever it takes.
Color by DeLuxe; locations included Wilmington, North Carolina, and Spartanburg, Abbeville and Clinton, South Carolina. Estimated budget $20 million. Michael London is credited as executive in charge of production. One of the film's advertising tag-lines was: "She changed her name. Her looks. Her life. All to escape the most dangerous man she's ever met. Her husband." In the early stages of the project, Kim Basinger and Aidan Quinn were offered the lead acting roles. Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Censors.
"...Roberts remains a marvel..." - 03/07/1991 Rolling Stone, p.90
"...[Roberts's] most wide-ranging performance..." - 12/02/1994 Entertainment Weekly, pp.84-5