Single White Female

Single White Female

Directed by: Barbet Schroeder

Friday, February 28 - Saturday, March 1, 2014

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35mm print

“In SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, the psychological atmosphere that director Barbet Schroeder creates is so densely threatening that the air feels thick around you. Though Schroeder consciously evokes Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, the movie conjures up less noble precursors as well, in particular The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Basic Instinct and other recent psycho femme thrillers. What’s remarkable, though, is how engrossing the marriage of these high- and low-brow elements turns out to be. The tension between its content and its trashy form is precisely the key to its vitality. If it were any less cheap, it wouldn’t have the same edgy, gut-twisting jolt.

“Schroeder’s true subject here is dependency, and to explore it he puts his microscope to the relationship between two vastly different young New York women, Allison (Bridget Fonda) and Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who become roommates in Allison’s rent-controlled Upper West Side apartment. (There’s one catch: because of the rent control, Hedy has to remain officially anonymous.)

“Allison is a drop-dead set of curves topped with a helmet of flame-red Louise Brooks hair whose fiance is history for sleeping with his ex-wife. Immediately, the contrasts between the roommates is blinding. Hedy is as painfully self-conscious as Allison is outgoing; as plain as Allison is ravishing; and as sullen as Allison is bright. But where Allison is romantic and naive, Hedy is a realist with a keen sense of horse hockey. Allison, who has never lived alone, isn’t even aware how shaky her sense of self is, or how much she needs others to reinforce it.

“Hedy, who is the guilty surviving member of a pair of identical twins, is more than happy to act as Allison’s reflecting pool. All her life — or at least since the age of 9, when her twin was killed in an accident — Hedy has been searching for her missing “other half,” and before long, the women begin to function as two smoothly meshed parts of a single machine, protecting each other, confessing and dreaming out loud to each other and sharing each other’s clothes, perfume and tastes in movies…

“Fonda and Leigh are brilliantly subtle in the way they modulate the flowing emotional currents between their characters. As the frumpy, mush-mouthed Hedy, Leigh is most dazzling when she looks longingly and scrupulously over Allison’s features, studying every pore, the fragile angle of her neck, her insouciant, hip-locked way of standing, like an actress working her way into character. She’s the movies’ first Method roommate.” – Washington Post

R, 103 Minutes
USA, 1992




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