Single White Female

1992, Movie, R, 107 mins


SINGLE WHITE FEMALE is a stylishly shot thriller with several hair-raising moments. Considering that it's directed by Barbet Schroeder and stars Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh, it's also a major disappointment. Fonda plays Alison Jones, a chic New Yorker who finds herself in need of a roommate after she kicks out her unfaithful boyfriend Sam (Steven Weber). Enter Hedra Carlson (Leigh), who seems like the perfect candidate. Waif-like and dowdy, Hedra helps Alison through her crisis, and obviously derives satisfaction from the fact that her new friend comes to depend on her for support. When Sam works his way back into Alison's life, Hedra's jealousy is so blatant and intense it prompts Alison into some amateur investigation. Surprise, surprise! Turns out Hedra is no bookish introvert, but a psycho intent on taking over her roommate's life. That's what you get for not checking references.

Like too many contemporary thrillers, SWF starts out with an intriguing psychological premise which it fails to develop. Hedra, we find out, is an identical twin who lost her sister at an early age and is compulsively seeking a replacement. Thus she begins to dress in clothes identical to Alison's and even gets her hair styled in the exact same fashion. When we cut to the chase, though, she behaves just like any other generic movie psycho, killing anyone who gets in her way and covering her tracks with professional efficiency. Despite the formidable talents of the two leads, SWF is resoundingly inauthentic--a particular disappointment given that Schroeder's earlier films, REVERSAL OF FORTUNE and BARFLY, were such keenly observed studies of different social milieux. What we see of Alison and Hedra's lives outside the apartment rings patently untrue, as does Alison's tolerance of her patently manipulative, unhinged roommate. Any single white female that gullible should seek professional help. leave a comment

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