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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Single White Female can be found here.
Software designer Allison 'Allie' Jones (Bridget Fonda) just broke up with her live-in boyfriend Sam Rawson (Steven Weber) and wishes to find a new roommate, a single white female just like herself, to share her spacious New York City apartment. After interviewing several non-fits, Allie finally clicks with the rather dowdy Hedra 'Hedy' Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh). At first, the two women get along well, with Hedy doing a lot of caretaking and Allie helping Hedy to dress more stylishly. However, it becomes alarming when Hedy's behavior begins to change. She erases Sam's telephone messages and steals his mail. She reads Allie the riot act when Allie doesn't call her or come home on time. She copies everything about Allie...her clothes, her hairdo, even taking on her identity at an underground sex club. When Allie decides to reconcile with Sam and asks Hedy to move out is when things really turn from bad to worse.
The film is based on the novel SWF Seeks Same (later retitled Single White Female) (1990) by American mystery writer John Lutz. The novel was adapted for the movie by American screenwriter Donald Roos. The movie was followed by Single White Female 2: The Psycho (2005), but the two stories are unrelated.
Hedy explains to Allie that she had an identical twin sister who was stillborn and that she's lived all her life feeling as though half of herself was missing. A bit later in the movie, Allie finds a box in Hedy's room containing newspaper clippings about her twin's death. According to the clippings, Hedy's twin sister actually drowned when they were nine-years-old. Presumably, Hedy has transferred that co-dependency to Allie and wants to regain the twin-bond that she so desperately misses. Consequently, she tries to make herself over into Allie's twin.
The label says 'Moi-Meme' ('Myself'), which is a perfume released by Desti of Paris in 1914. Maison Desti closed its doors prior to Madame Desti's death in 1931.
Hedy was working as a clerk at a bookstore called Rizzoli. In one scene, she phones Allie from the store asking her to return the call and seems very upset when Allie doesn't answer. She also receives money from her father who threatened to stop sending the checks when she refused to come home.
Hedy explained that she left the window open because she thought Sam had fixed the grating. She then admitted that she may have called Sam for breakfast before he had actually finished the repair. Many viewers, however, think that Hedy was simply jealous that Buddy liked Allie more than her and had a hand in facilitating the fall.
Hedy drags Allie's body from the elevator to the furnace room in the basement and goes looking for a wheelbarrow (to presumably burn her body up in the building furnace). When she returns, however, Allie's body is gone. Frantically, Hedy grabs a heavy iron meat hook and goes from room to room looking for Allie, but Allie has crawled out of sight in an overhead air vent. Allie knocks a rat down on Hedy's shoulder, scaring her, but Hedy continues to search. Suddenly, Allie drops on top of Hedy and stabs her twice in the back with a screwdriver, killing her. In an epilogue, Allie is packing up some boxes of items in the apartment, including Hedy's photos of her twin sister. In a voiceover, Allie says, 'Hedy's parents said that for years they tried to explain to her that her sister's death wasn't her fault but she never forgave herself for surviving. So every day, I try to forgive Hedy for Sam. Then I try to do what she couldn't...forgive myself. I know what can happen to someone who doesn't.' The final scene is a closeup of a photograph, comprised half of Hedy's face taped to the other half of Allie's face, making them look like one person.
Those who have seen Single White Female often cite Play Misty for Me (1971), in which a fan obsessed with a disk jockey takes to stalking him when he rebuffs her attentions, as the movie that may have started the 'obsessed psychopathic stalker' genre. Also recommended are The Fan (1981), in which a obsessed record salesman strikes out at the actress who rejects him. In The Crush (1993), a teenager attempts to sabotage a journalist when he rejects her advances. The Roommate (2011) is very similar to Single White Female in that a college student becomes obsessed with her roommate. Another highly recommended movie from the genre is Fatal Attraction (1987), in which a lawyer has a one-night stand with a colleague and lives to regret it. Similarly, in Number One Fan (1995), a fan obsessively stalks an actor after a one night stand. And finally, there is the movie that might be the origin of the phrase, 'I'm your number one fan,' Stephen King's Misery 1990, in which a novelist is rescued from a car wreck by his 'number one fan'.Another in this genre is The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), where unbeknownst to a pair of new parents, their new nanny is actually the widow of the new mother's former gynecologist, whose career and life the mother ruined with allegations of sexual assault/harassment. Psychological hijinxs ensue when the nanny moves in.
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