Julia Roberts stars in this story, playing a trophy bride who starts getting the shit beaten out of her shortly after marrying a wealthy investment counsellor (Patrick Bergin). Three years later she fakes her own death and disappears off to Iowa to spend some time with her mammy.
Julia Roberts is obviously exceptional, and the movie doesn’t lay it on thick with the violence – preferring a few key scenes to show how malevolent Bergin’s character is, and spending more time dwelling on the psychological aspects of his controlling relationship. Patrick likes his hand towels straight, his jars all aligned, and his tea on his table when he gets home. He didn’t appreciate it when Julia felt it necessary to go to her Mother’s funeral without telling him. Bless him, he could have starved.
So Julia learns to swim, in secret (Patrick thinks she is incapable of swimming, you see – important plot point). She jumps off a boat in a storm, discards her lifejacket and swims away to safety. Patrick assumes she has drowned, and howls at the moon. “Laura!” “Laura!”. Poor Laura.
She cuts off half an inch of her hair and flushes it down the toilet with her expensive wedding ring, which I can’t help but think would have come in handy if you needed some spare cash. She puts on a black wig, and gets on a bus. An old lady gives her an apple, and sympathy.
And in Iowa, the primary message of the movie really hits home – 1991 was a terrible year for Male Fashion. Jesus Christ almighty, what is that goon wearing? Look at his hair?!
We meet the second man of the film, who is definitely given a name by the scriptwriter, but I can’t remember what it is. Is he playful? He’s singing some songs from Grease. Or is he serious? We are supposed to be moved by his reading to his class (he’s a drama teacher). In truth, he’s pretty unbelievable as the love interest, and I don’t think it’s entirely down to his choice in clothes. I found myself wishing Bergin would have actually properly shot him at the films climax – like in the face and everything. No such luck.
Julia knocks about Iowa for a bit, convinces us that she’s a great actress with terrible taste in men, bakes an apple pie, meets up with her mammy whilst dressed as an alcoholic boy and eventually gets found by Bergin’s cookie-cutter baddie. Partly due to the wedding ring sitting at the bottom of the toilet pan (surprised?).
I think we were supposed to be punching the air at the end when Julia fills Patrick full of lead in the hallway of her massive house (why did she rent such a massive house?), but in honesty I kind of wanted her to show him some mercy.
But maybe I forget what the early nineties was like in Hollywood, such humanity was seemingly scoffed at. Even a sweet-faced Ms Roberts succumbed to cold murder.
Perhaps if the two boys in the film were better actors I would have gone along with the director’s vision – of Bergin deserving his ultimate punishment.
And perhaps if Bergin didn’t have such a classically evil moustache, I would have taken the film a bit more seriously.