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Single White Female (1992)

Single White Female.jpg

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You get to thinking differently about it when your imitator starts buying the same clothes. And furniture. And following you. And taking your clothes from your wardrobe when you’re at work and meeting you whilst wearing them. When I first saw this I shivered with recognition. l had had my own fairly recent SWF (stalking) experience at a workplace when the chief of personnel felt compelled to introduce me to an intern who shared my name. This individual then haunted me:  she followed me everywhere, even when I dodged out of the building each day trying to escape her after tiring of her constantly ingratiating herself into whatever group I was involved with in my office, in corridors, over lunch, after work, and eventually she took up residence for a nightmarish 4 days in my apartment pleading poverty after arriving in a rainstorm, allegedly homeless. It was then that I noticed her disgusting body odour and personal habits. Yeeuch. I don’t think I’m the first person who has literally been stalked to the point of wanting to take action. (And in fact another ‘friend’ had done something similar to me at college and took me for thousands … but that’s ANOTHER story. I am a fool.) I told only one person at work what was going on and was quite helpless in the face of an irresistible force.  John Lutz’s novel was adapted by Don Roos and filmed by Barbet Schroeder and NYC looks great: the apartment interiors are crucial to expressing the psychodrama which doesn’t remain hidden for long in this story of violent Hitchcockian doubling (look at the film clips they use). Bridget Fonda is wonderful as the put-upon Allie, a woman who undergoes the kind of sexist treatment at work that we all pretend to ignore; while Jennifer Jason Leigh is the nutjob roommate from hell who killed her identical twin years before and acts out her psychotic fantasy on Allie when her fiance walks out. This is probably the standout Woman From Hell movie of the era and while my own situation did not wind up as a slasher nightmare, it was bloody awful when my stalker paid my workplace a visit 6 months later, taken to see me in my office by an unwitting co-worker who hadn’t the vaguest idea of what I’d been put through and thought I would be thrilled to see her. I wasn’t.  So when I saw this, I could relate. I’ve written about Schroeder’s first film More  (1969) at Offscreen, the estimable film journal: Enough about me. What mystifies now is what on earth has happened to the fabulous Fonda? The last film I recall seeing her in was the TVM The Snow Queen, more than a decade ago.  The unusual Ms Leigh has earned an Academy Award nomination for Tarantino’s Hateful Eight.This remains a fine piece of work and a monument to both of their very singular talents.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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