Allie Jones (Bridget Fonda) has hit a snag in her relationship with fiancé Sam Rawson (Steven Weber) when they were lying in bed in their apartment recently and Sam's ex-wife called on the phone; Allie happened to overhear that he had slept with her mere days ago and that she was keen to get back together with him, with the result that Allie threw him out, in spite of his protestations. Trouble is, she hates being alone and quickly places an advertisement for a new roommate, but on meeting the applicants there's only one person who seems perfect - until Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) walks in on her crying...
The paranoia of the nineties, which had nothing on the paranoia of the noughties, let's not forget, was heralded in the choice of subject for thrillers that many movies adopted at the beginning of that decade, a genre drawn from the slasher movies of the eighties and offered a respectable sheen through casting fairly big names to act them out. Of course, we had been there before with the likes of Fatal Attraction, but for some reason Hollywood really caught the bug of these things about three years later, with a more insidious bunch of bad guys and gals who might seem friendly at first, but we can see that give them enough time and they'll go completely psycho on you.
Single White Female was interesting for one of those in that it took two young women as its leads instead of one man and one lady, as would often be the case. The difference between this new breed of thrillers and the previous chillers was that here we knew who the nutter was going to be from the start, thanks to the trailer, the reviews, and knowing exactly what kind of entertainment we were in for having seen an example or two of these before, so anyone who did not catch Hedy as the raving lunatic from her first appearance simply wasn't trying hard enough. The feminine twist in proceedings made this stand out from the crowd, but there were still those complaining.
Firstly, they complained that a director seen as a bit arty and highbrow, in this case Barbet Schroeder, should be associated with such a tawdry strain of movies, and secondly, they complained that the whole thing should have been a lot more interesting and intellectually stimulating. How so? By making this a psychological drama about one woman's obsession for another, and forgetting all the laughably flimsy reasons for Hedy's unhinged nature such as her deeply felt loss of a twin sister so that a more convincing depiction of what made her tick (or what made her tic) could be employed instead. That's right, the unimpressed members of the audience wanted something dry and cerebral for their killer roommate suspense piece.
Well, that would be no fun, would it? There are plenty of real life dreadful roommate stories in the world, but not many of them would make for a great movie, and while you could argue that the one they picked for this didn't do that either, at least you could be amused with its slightly-to-utterly daft plot contrivances designed to make Allie's life a nightmare. So Hedy moves in, is at pains to show how much less confident than her new friend she is, then that shyness translates into a more ingratiating quality as she buys a puppy and protects Allie from the calls of Sam, then we start to worry as puppy is defenestrated with unfortunate results and Hedy dresses like Allie. From this we can tell it won't be long until someone is, ooh, I dunno, getting the sharp end of a high heeled shoe through their brain, and that's what you remember, well, that and the nudity, for what Single White Female is at heart is pure trash, and if it had embraced this fact and forgot about trying to be classy it might have found the correct tone. Music by Howard Shore.