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When a 'Single White Female' places an ad in the press for a similar woman to rent a room (to replace the boyfriend she's just left), all the applicants seem weird. Then along comes a level headed woman who seems to be just right. The new lodger has a secret past which haunts her. Written by
Formulaic, formulaic yeah it's routine Hollywood psycho-thriller territory, but too visually well made by director Barbet Schroeder and comfortably performed in the shape of Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh to not get something out of it. The story (adapted off John Lutz's novel "SWF Seeks Same") plays its cards quite early, and goes about the subject in a too convenient manner to make it entirely effective. Quite a slow build-up and many sub-plots stem off the central plot, as we watch Leigh's character's twitchy transformation suddenly grow and form the basis of the early groundwork that would eventually unsettle Fonda's fragile character. A resourceful Schroeder sure does a brilliant job with many artistic flourishes, and inspired gimmick set-pieces where you just can't help but admire Luciano Tovoli's lyrically smooth cinematography. However trying to register the suspense, became hard due to leading us down the same old path of cheap clichéd jolts and shinny techniques. Although the potent climax goes over-board, it's particularly heart-pounding and downright exciting. There's nothing overtly tame about it, with its seamless nudity and tantalizing sex, and a wicked death here and there. But it's all tastefully done. Howard Shore's sumptuously airy musical score feeds off the well used location and compact sets (especially that of the stark Victorian apartment building) that are very ideal to the film's progression. In the two leads, a gorgeous Fonda is terrific and Leigh's needly attachable turn is one of confidence. The chemistry works, and when it comes to it they sure do look like each other. Talk about eerie. There's also solid support by Steven Weber, Peter Friedman and Stephen Tobolowsky.
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