The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Single White Female

When it was released in August of 1992, Single White Female occupied a distinct middle ground. It was a hit but not a blockbuster, and the reviews were good but not great. Nevertheless, unlike some of the other films that came out that summer and did comparable business, it managed to linger in the public's memory. It's not hard to see why. In retrospect, this was a groundbreaking movie. A thriller with a female hero and a female villain? And one with a sexual edge, no less? That was a fairly novel idea in the early '90s. Scream Factory brings Single White Female to Blu-ray, so fans can and should rejoice.

Bridget Fonda plays Allie, a stylish NYC businesswoman who places an ad looking for a roommate. She ends up with Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a frumpy introvert. They become friends, but then things grow a little shaky. Hedy clearly begins to idolize Allie, eventually changing her wardrobe and hair to look more like her. That causes a real problem when Allie's boyfriend Sam (Steven Weber) has trouble telling them apart in bed. Hedy eventually proves to be psychotically obsessed with her roommate, leading to a tense conclusion.

Single White Female is very much a story about identity and how people can shape themselves into something they are not. That thematic depth set it apart from other thrillers of the era. Rather than being a thriller with a stereotypical damsel-in-distress, it dared to examine the idea that one woman could be so desperate to be like another that it drives her over the edge. On a similar note, it didn't shy away from showing how uncomfortable Allie is with someone else trying to mimic her in every way. Those elements remain effective, and in the era of the #MeToo movement, the story's sexual harassment subplot involving Allie's lecherous client (Stephen Tobolowski) plays out even more powerfully.

Director Barbet Schroeder pays a lot of attention to style. He and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli use atmospheric lighting and carefully-designed camera angles to ensure an unnerving vibe is constantly running through the film. Single White Female is a B-movie, yet it's a beautifully-made one that puts an emphasis on tone. There's also impressive character development. Fonda and Leigh have strong, multi-dimensional characters to play. Both give excellent performances. They kick the material up another notch.

Single White Female remains a notable thriller. It is much deserving of this Blu-ray release.

Blu-ray Features:

Unfortunately, neither Jennifer Jason Leigh nor Bridget Fonda (who retired from acting sixteen years ago) can be found anywhere in the supplementary materials. There's plenty of good stuff nonetheless, starting with a half-hour interview with director Barbet Schroeder. He discusses the unusual move of following up his Oscar-nominated film Reversal of Fortune with a genre picture, reveals some of the camera/lighting techniques he used to heighten tension, and reminisces about working with the actors. It's a captivating segment with a subject who is willing to be perfectly open.

Actor Peter Friedman, who plays Allie's neighbor Graham, is interviewed, too. The actor talks about his audition process and working with a stuntwoman for one intense scene. Friedman is a good storyteller, so his anecdotes never fail to entertain. Steven Weber also gets an interview segment. He animatedly remembers his experience working with Fonda and Leigh, as well as filming the now-infamous scene where he gets a stiletto heel in his eye. Finally, there's a lengthy interview with screenwriter Don Roos. He talks about adapting, and occasionally changing, the novel on which Single White Female is based.

The theatrical trailer is included, as is an audio commentary from Barbet Schroeder, editor Lee Percy, and Associate Producer Susan Hoffman.

For more information on this and other great titles, please visit the Scream Factory website.

Single White Female is rated R for strong sexuality, and for violence and language . The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.

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