The Screen Room
Single White Female (1992)
It’s been a while since I ticked a film off my “Films I Should’ve Seen By Now But Haven’t” list. And after my Bridget Fonda post a few weeks back I figured it was about time I watched a movie I’ve wanted to see ever since it came out, but for some inexplicable reason, never have…till now.
Single White Female (1992)
I feel somewhat embarrassed to admit it’s taken me 30 years to watch this film but I’m happy to report it lived up to my expectations.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a classic 90s thriller starring Bridget Fonda (Lake Placid), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Steven Weber (Leaving Las Vegas), Peter Friedman (Paycheck) and Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day) among others.
It’s based on the 1990 novel, "SWF Seeks Same" by John Lutz.
This is what it about according to the internet:
“Having recently split from fiancé Sam Rawson (Weber), Allison Jones (Fonda) welcomes new roommate Hedra Carlson (Jason Leigh). The young women quickly form a bond, but as Allison starts to rethink her engagement, Hedra grows jealous and hostile. As Allison learns new details about her roommate's life, Hedra gets violent in her efforts to get Sam out of the picture. With Hedra turning more menacing by the minute, Allison finally understands what she's up against.”
I like a good thriller and the 1990s produced some really good ones. In fact last night it was a toss up between this or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, also from 1992. That’s another film I’ve never seen, but this one has always interested me more.
Something I struggle with is extremely tense or awkward moments in movies. I kind of want to fast forward a bit to break the tension but I never do. This film has a fair few of those moments and they’re part of what makes it so good.
Seeing the two main characters start off so well, to the point where, in a different life you could imagine them being best friends, then seeing the cracks appear in their relationship is an entertaining but stressful journey (for me at least).
Both Fonda and Jason Leigh do their jobs brilliantly, and are strong female leads, especially Jason Leigh who’s totally convincing as a slightly unhinged and ultimately obsessed psychopath.
You can always tell how much the world has changed when you watch a film from the 80s or 90s. I quite often find myself thinking, “You couldn’t say that now” or “They wouldn’t make this film now.” You’ve only got to read the warnings in the film synopsis’ on sky to see that. The Goonies even has one that says something to the effect of, “This film contains outdated views and opinions that some viewers may find offensive.” Really?! It’s The Goonies!!
With this movie it was more a case of me thinking “If this was made today, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, Hedra would be the victim.”
With mental health being such a hot, yet sensitive topic these days, I wonder if the movie would’ve been handled differently. Personally I like it how it is, but years ago these types of movies weren’t so sensitive to mental health issues and often villainised characters that nowadays would probably be seen as victims, or “misunderstood” due to their mental state (Fatal Attraction being the first that comes to mind).
I did read though that as well as a number of mental conditions such as borderline personality disorder, Hedra suffered with survivor’s guilt after the death of her twin sister as a child.
I’ve digressed as usual but I really enjoyed this movie. I always like watching films from my youth because they seem so much more honest and less eager to please. Most of them are just effortlessly enjoyable which sadly doesn’t seem to be the case these days.
My only criticism would be the ending and how it all seems so abrupt. I did read that the original ending was scrapped after a poor test screening so maybe that accounts for it. I couldn’t find anymore details on that though so if you happen to know how it originally ended let me know in the comments.
If you haven’t seen this film and like me you like a decent thriller with an unhealthy dose of tension and a good story, I definitely recommend giving it a watch.
Seen it? Let me know below. 👇