• Single White Female (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: September 5th, 2018.
    Director: Barbet Schroeder
    Cast: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Steven Weber, Peter Friedman
    Year: 1992
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    Single White Female – Movie Review:

    Most of us have had roommates at some point in our lives, someone, for better or worse, to share expenses with typically when just starting out on our own or, other times, when rebounding back from one of those events that life happens to throw your way. Sometimes those roommates huff ether in the garage, don’t pay their bills and steal your shit – and sometimes they’re a whole lot worse than that.

    In the case of this 1992 film from Director Barbet Schroeder (Kiss Of Death, Barfly), it’s definitely a whole lot worse. The story revolves around a positively lovely young woman named Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda of Lake Placid and Point Of No Return), recently single after splitting up with her ass of a fiancé, Sam (prolific TV actor Steven Weber, probably best known for starring in Wings!), and in need of a roommate in the big, bustling metropolis of New York City. She places an ad in the classifieds section of her local newspaper and soon enough, Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh of Miami Blues and The Hateful Eight) has moved on. Hedra is quiet, shy even, but seems nice enough at first. If nothing else, she helps pay the rent and keeps the extra room in Allison’s apartment from sitting empty and unused. Meanwhile, Allison hits it off with next-door neighbor Graham (Peter Friedman of Christmas Evil), a guy who seems more interested in cats than anything else.

    And then, as we’d all have guessed, things take a strange turn and Allison realizes that her new friend is a little weird. Once Sam is back in the picture and trying to make amends, Hedra becomes unusually possessive and once Allison realizes that Hedra is dressing in the same clothes that she wears and flirting with Sam, well, it’s clear that Hedra is a damaged case, and a dangerous one at that.

    This film is very much a product of its time – does anyone place ads in the classifieds section of the newspapers anymore? – but it still works really well. Schroeder shows excellent control over the pacing and does a very fine job of slowly but deliberately building suspense in the first half so that when the wheels come off in the second, the audience is already on board. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie was shot by Luciano Tovoli, the cinematographer behind Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger, or that it has a score from Howard Shore, frequent Peter Jackson and David Cronenberg collaborator. The film is also stronger than you might expect (or remember), handily earning its R-rating with a fair amount of both sex and violence portrayed quite graphically.

    The performances are quite good. Both Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda are solid as the two leads. Leigh does the shy and demure thing just as well as she does the crazy thing. She moves from one extreme of her character to the other and makes it look both easy and natural. Fonda is just naturally likeable and charismatic. Both do very fine work in front of the camera.

    Single White Female – Blu-ray Review:

    Single White Female looks just fine framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in the AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on this 50GB disc. Luciano Tovoli’s cinematography leans towards the soft side at times and as such, there are moments where detail isn’t particularly astounding but this is intentional. Otherwise, detail and texture are just fine. Colors are reproduced quite nicely and there are solid black levels here. Skin tones look fine, and the image is free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement issues. The picture is also very clean, showing the expected amount of film grain but no real print damage to speak of.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track in English. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No complaints – the track is clean, clear and properly balanced. There are a few spots where the stereo effects are noticeable and add to the fun. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary featuring Director Barbet Schroeder, Editor Lee Percy, and Associate Producer Susan Hoffman. This is the best extra on the disc – all three participants are engaged and good story tellers, looking back on the making of the movie with a reasonable amount of fondness. They cover working with the different cast members, the script, what it was like on set, how the various participants came to be involved in the project and lots more. Lots of information in here.

    From there, we dig into the first of four interviews recorded for this release, beginning with Schroeder himself. He speaks for just over twenty-seven-minutes about his work on the film, his thoughts on the story and the film and those who he worked with to get the project made. Up next, Actor Steven Weber spends nineteen-minutes in front of the camera talking about his experiences on the film, how he got the role, his thoughts on the pictures and what it was like working with his co-stars. After that, Actor Peter Friedman spends seven-minutes sharing his memories of the shoot and about some of the issues he ran into – this one is quite amusing. Last but certainly not least is Screenwriter Don Roos who talks for twenty-six-minutes about turning the novel that the movie was based on into a screenplay, how he pulled from some of his own real-world experiences when fleshing out the story and how he feels about the end result.

    Outside of that the disc also includes a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    Single White Female – The Final Word:

    Single White Female may be a product of its time but there’s no shame in that and the movie holds up quite well thanks to some slick direction, impressive cinematography and strong performances. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds quite nice and it includes quite a few interesting extra features that document the film’s history. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Single White Female Blu-ray screen caps!