Single White Female Reviews
Realistically, "Single White Female" is a film that will only decrease in respectability with age - infamy suits it better than classic status, and it isn't a necessary watch unless you relish that period in the earlier part of the 1990s when erotic thrillers ran ramped and audiences still liked their movies seasoned with a dash of melodramatic spiciness. So I'll truthfully call out "Single White Female" for being more guilty pleasure than art, but basking in the glory of a guilty pleasure wasn't a crime the last time I checked, and this one's worthy of a taste.
You might be familiar with how its story goes, anyway. The film stars the ravishing Bridget Fonda as Allison Jones, a career girl whose healthy balance between a professional life and a romantic one is thrown out of orbit when it is discovered that her long-term boyfriend (Steven Weber) cheated on her with his ex-wife. Disgusted with his dishonesty and feeling the need to start her life anew, Allison decides that living alone, especially in the wake of a devastating breakup, is not much appealing. Why not take the daring route and look for a roommate?
She puts an ad in the newspaper, and most applicants don't quite click. Too many neurotics, too many individuals with obvious baggage, show up on her doorstep. So she figures herself lucky when Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a shy but caring young woman, walks in toward the end of the application process and proves herself to be a good fit. Somewhat passive but nurturing and respectful all the same, transition is smooth - friendship prospers speedily, and being single might not be such a bad thing for Allison after all.
But just as the situation starts to ease, things begin to get questionable. Hedy reveals herself to be increasingly (and alarmingly) possessive, reacting melodramatically if Allison stays out late or has a complaint about someone at work. It all particularly worsens when the latter gets back together with her boyfriend, causing jealousy to spread within Hedy. Rising, strange behaviors, are prompted, including the purchases of several of Allison's outfits, erratic mood swings, and, my personal favorite, the eyebrow raising decision to get her hair cut in the exact same fashion as her roommate. If these aren't warning signs, then I'm not sure what I'd call them - a shame Allison waits such a long time before taking Hedy's obsessions seriously. Her past isn't shady for nothing, after all.
By the time "Single White Female" screeches to a halt, Hedra Carlson announces herself as being one of the most memorable movie villains of the '90s, played by Leigh with convincing instability that prevents her from being ludicrously over the top. Though we're left doubting the film's plausibility a lot of the time - most in Allison's predicament would certainly not ignore the red flags that smother Hedra's persona so often - the film is good at what it does, which, in this case, is posing as a thriller that runs high on freaky design and low on understatement. And I respond to films like this, ones so wild and fatteningly galvanizing that we can hardly do anything but lick our lips as the goings get increasingly rough, to an explosive point of no return. Fonda, looking much like Shirley MacLaine, is a spunky heroine, chic and confident, Leigh a suitable, Joan Crawfordian villainess.
"Single White Female" doesn't get any points in terms of how it's aged - in the twenty-four years since its release, its datedness has begun to show since thrillers mostly rely on the restrained nowadays - but this is a fun, shabby, and decently stylish roller coaster ride.
Bridget Fonda and David Weber are in a strained relationship so Alison figures a new roommate will be the perfect outlet to get away from the emotional complications
Heddy seems like the perfect applicant; kind, caring, and sympathetic but things as you would imagine take a dark turn as Heddy becomes more obsessive of her roommate and her personal life
the film slogs a lot but the leads stunningly bounce off of one another creating that uneasy afraid-of-living-with-someone vibe
While I love just about everything about Jennifer Jason Leigh, this movie suffers from a great deal of creative arrangement that doesn't hold up well. The character of Hedy transforms unrealistically into Peyton from The Hand that Rocks the Cradle where they did this same plot much better. Her acting worked well enough amongst the choppy writing that seemed to demand a different character from her every few moments of the film. It would almost have been better to learn that Aly and Hedy were the same person all along in a different psychological path.
Speaking of Aly, she's not that interesting of a character and has plenty of her own flaws, making one wonder even after the mirror scene what makes her so interesting to others. She comes off as barely human which could have been the fault of male writers/directors misunderstanding how to represent a female properly. She just comes off bland at best with more than a little rooting for Hedy to just get rid of her and move on. After all, many of Hedy's claims about Aly, her boyfriend, etc, were not terribly off the mark. He most certainly would have cheated on Aly again at the very least.
Sam(Weber)'s scenes were so far from realistic and I have to wonder how they decided that A. He didn't have anything better to say to Hedy upon her reveal to him, and B. How much time was spent deciding a quick heel to eye blow would render him dead without as much as a twitch of life? People survive close gunshot wounds to the head(sadly) and even Hedy, who's half Sam's size can take multiple severe wounds before she goes down.
While some find the ending showdown to be exciting and climactic, I was left wondering scene after scene how the heck they concluded that would be how it went down. Not the least is the gunshot not attracting attention to an area where loud music brought the super to the apartment just hours before. And I've never heard of a dog jumping from a window on it's own but they never reveal that she had more to do with that, leaving that open for rather poor allusion.
Ultimately, this movie didn't make me think I wasted 2 hours of my life like some have, but its choppy and rambling story left me numb and bored.