SWF with Killer Heels
I remember when I first watched "Single White Female" I was impressed by the clever storyline, but then it lost its magic as every time I watched it I could easily remember what was going to happen. Having pretty much forgotten all about it and discarded it to the bottom of my film collection, I recently gave it another viewing and having pretty much forgotten all the twists and turns of the plot I thoroughly enjoyed it again.
Distraught after discovering that her fiancee has been cheating on her with his ex-wife, Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda - Doc Hollywood) decides to find a roommate to share her Manhattan apartment with. After interviewing candidates, sophisticated career woman Allison settles on Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh - Backdraft), a shy woman who has little fashion sense, and seemingly, a heart of gold. At first she's the perfect roommate, asking Allison for advice and attempting to emulate her cosmopolitan style. But Hedra's adulation grows more and more disturbing as Allison realises that her new roommate has a dark side.
Although "Single White Female" is pretty predictable and you can guess that Hedra will turn out to be have a dark side, the twists and turns which transport us from the start through to the somewhat predictable climax our indeed very clever. The film basically has three sections, with the initial section setting up the storyline. Although this section is relatively brief in comparison to the other sections, it builds up enough background so that the story seems plausible.
The second section of the film becomes more interesting as we watch the character of Hedra change as she begins to emulate the style of her roommate Allison. This alone would feel quite strange, but the film does it in such a natural way, that to start with you just feel that it is Hedra just trying to imitate her roommate because she wants to be as successful and forthright as her. But as this section moves along we start to see the darker side of Hedra's character and begin to understand that her change in character maybe due to more sinister reasons than just adulation.
The final section which builds up to the somewhat predictable climax, involving Allison, Hedra and Sam has enough twists to keep you interested, with the real reasons behind Hedra's behaviour being revealed. Some of the twists are a bit far fetched but in general these make the final part of the film a decent thriller, even though it ends in what I would call a text book manner.
In general the storyline is pretty good, it has its flaws and at times is highly predictable but generally has enough twists to make it more than just an adequate thriller.
In the role of Allison Jones is Bridget Fonda, who back in the early 90s seemed to be blossoming into quite a Holly wood star, sadly since then she seems to have nearly dropped off the radar. Fonda is absolutely perfect in the role of Allison, a sexy, confident, successful fashion designer who is in charge of her life, even when it takes a wrong turn. Even when the film twists and Allison finds herself becoming a victim of her own roommate's obsession, Fonda manages to portray the character with relative ease and realism.
Opposite Fonda is Jennifer Jason Leigh who also seems to have dipped off the Hollywood radar since her success in the early 90s. For me Leigh's initial characterization of Hedra was brilliant, as she came over as timid and humble, always looking to please Allison, but her transformation into a psychotic maniac lacked something. Whether this was in her performance or was down to the actual writing of the character I cannot decide, but it started to become implausible in places.
"Single White Female" is directed by Barbet Schroeder who has made his name by directing thrillers such as "Desperate Measures" and "Murder by Numbers". Schroeder does a good job with Single White Female, he keeps the film moving at a decent pace, leaving you just enough time to ponder on what you have seen before shifting on, plus he manages the twists in the plot perfectly, leading you one way just to throw you back in the other direction without a moments notice. In all fairness, Schroeder has done a reasonable job of making what is basically a good thriller, but it is by no means up to the standards of say Hitchcock or M. Night Shyamalan.
What this all boils down to is that "Single White Female" is one of those films that you watch once every few years, once you have forgotten the ins and outs of the story. The film itself is a very reasonable thriller which although may not keep you on the edge of your seat, has enough twists and history to keep you involved for the films full duration.