Danger comes in many guises. Sometimes the villains are creepy, ill-spoken bad guys. Sometimes they are clearly defined members of an opposing group. But perhaps the most sinister villains of all are those who share the same look and feel of the protagonist. Yesterday, this column reviewed 1992’s “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” about a seemingly friendly woman who is bent on destroying the life of a genuinely friendly woman. 1992 also brought to screen another story about the destruction one unhinged woman can create in “Single White Female.”
In “Single White Female,” Allison Jones (played by Bridget Fonda), a New York City based-software designer, needs to make some personal and professional changes. She is trying to launch a new software program and her fiancé and roommate Sam (played by Steven Weber) cheats on her with his ex-wife. To sell her product, Allison has to make some compromises, and she needs a new roommate to offset her expenses. After meeting several prospective roomies, she thinks she has made a good choice in Hedra Carlson (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), a shy young woman. At first, they get along great. Hedra worries Allison and Sam will get back together since it would mean she needs to find a new place to live. Eventually, this does happen, and Hedra is not happy. Not happy at all.
“Single White Female” is an effectively creepy thriller that is directed with a lot of style by Barbet Schroeder. It becomes darker and scarier as the story progresses.
As Allison, Bridget Fonda offers a fine performance as a young woman trying to control her work and home lives and finding that the obstacles being thrown at her are severe. Jennifer Jason Leigh is stunning as Hedra. Although she is the villain of the film and does some truly terrible things, we almost feel sorry for her. We learn she has a troubled past, and she genuinely cares for Allison (at least at the beginning).
“Single White Female” is a good choice for those who liked “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.”