By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: A roommate from hell.
Allison (Bridget Fonda) is a young entrepreneurial business woman who breaks up with her boyfriend and decides she doesn’t want to be in her apartment alone. She finds Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for a roommate and things go well until the relationship with her boyfriend is rekindled. Hendra then starts to become possessive until it eventually culminates into full blown psychosis.
This thriller really never gets going until the final thirty minutes when it climaxes with a real rock ’em, sock ’em, duke it out showdown, which is full of clever twists and good action. The first third though stagnates. In some ways this is good because it avoids being a formulated thriller that feels the need to always telegraph its punches. The viewer is as in the dark as to Hedra’s psychosis as Allison is. Things work so slowly that at times it almost seems like a drama. In some ways it might have been better had it stayed that way. There are some good ingredients here for an insightful look of two young women from different backgrounds trying to forge a friendship. Having it turn into your general psycho/thriller seems almost like a cheap gimmick that prevents it from being a deeper and more original piece.
Another thing that separates this from the other psycho/thrillers is the fact that the two are on equal footing. Unlike most thrillers the bad guy doesn’t have any unfair advantage over the other or the good guy isn’t impeded with any type of handicap. It all just comes down to smarts, inner strength and determination, which makes it interesting. It’s almost like giving them both a pair of gloves and then putting them into the ring.
Fonda is likable enough. She is normal, but not in a boring way and has vulnerabilities that she must face. Leigh has always had an interesting ‘clenched jaw’ like delivery. Usually this has a sexy appeal yet when she becomes psychotic it makes her more frightening. Leigh is also portrayed as the ‘frumpy’ one, but with her long hair and young girl look she actually is more enticing. Fonda of course is also attractive, but not with the hairstyle that she has here. Both have some good nude scenes.
There are some loopholes. One involves the murder by the heel of a shoe which gets lodged in the victim’s eye socket. This has an almost one in a million chance of happening especially at the angle it is done in. The assailant (Leigh) is a woman who is already shorter than the victim who is male. Added was the fact that she was sitting down while the victim was standing. Logistically she would not have been able to reach his eye and even if she had it would have taken so much effort to reach up there that she wouldn’t have had enough strength to drive it in the way she did especially in the split second that this movie has it happen in. Also, when one is wrestling with a perpetrator who has a gun that they drop it is a good idea to grab the gun before making a run for the door especially when it is in easy reach.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: August 14, 1992
Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video
Great post, I haven’t seen this one in years but I still remember it.
Promise more than it delivers. More of a contrived thriller than a psychological one.
Single White Female was one of my favourites from the 90s. Both Bridget and Jennifer are a most phenomenal heroine/villainess chemistry. Thanks very much for your review.