Bridget Fonda plays Allie Jones, a New York career girl with a fabulously spacious apartment who advertises for a roommate to cure her depression after breaking up with her unfaithful boyfriend, Sam (Steven Weber).
Terrified of loneliness and eschewing “Cooking For One” books, she gets Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a shy, introverted, non-threatening loner who needs to feel useful and wanted.
Before you can dial 911, the dowdy new girl in the spare room turns into the roommate from hell. She intercepts phone calls, erases messages, brings home a dog, and harasses the other tenants.
Allie’s nerves begin to fray and the film grows more sinister by the frame. Suddenly Hedra’s possessiveness takes a cryptic turn as she emulates her roommate to the point of duplicating her clothes, hairstyle and voice, creating a twin image.
This proves something of a dilemma for ex-boyfriend Sam when he gets a visit from Hedra, who is decked out as Allie. With her head bobbing above his crotch, Sam is too self-involved to notice that this girl is not his girl. As the blow-job continues, he catches on. Should he kick her out or cum first?
When bodies begin to pile up like bottles in a sanitation strike, the movie turns as psychotic as the roommate and everything collapses in a mountain of bloody clichés.
But up to a point, the controlled neurosis of Barbet Schroeder’s direction has a frenetic intensity that keeps you glued to your seat. The picture has a lot of atmosphere, most hauntingly reflected in the gloomy Ansonia, at 73rd and Broadway, an architectural monster full of mirrors, mazes and marvels guaranteed to terrify you.
The two actresses who keep it moving are never less than believable, spirited and inspired.
Until the final minutes when it goes berserk, Single White Female grabs the attention and holds it.
Jennifer Jason Leigh