Single White Female

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 104 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras None
Region 4    
Distributor Columbia Tristar    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
French (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 

Plot Synopsis

    Single White Female is a story about a psychopathic boarder. Allison Jones (Bridget Fonda) breaks up with her boyfriend, Sam Rawson (Steven Weber) because he sleeps with his ex-wife on the anniversary of their divorce. She kicks him out of her apartment, and then decides to take in a boarder. She chooses Hedra Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who duly moves in and things are good for a while. Hedra buys a puppy, Buddy, who Allison eventually agrees can stay in the apartment.

    Sam keeps calling, and eventually, Allison and Sam are reunited. Hedra is not at all happy about this, and sets about ruining things for Allison. The first mysterious incident involves Buddy, who falls from a height and is killed, ostensibly as a result of Sam's incompetence - but we know better.

    Meanwhile, at work, things are going well for Allison, until her boss, Mitchell Myerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) makes a pass at her. Sam at this stage is out of town on business, and Allison confides in Heddie. Heddie decides that a make-over is in order, and convinces Allison to come with her. Heddie makes herself look like Allison, which is the first inkling that Allison has of any problem with Heddie. Allison goes searching through Heddie's room, and discovers a shoe box filled with sinister things, including Heddie's real name - Ellen Besch - and the fact that Heddie was a twin whose other half drowned in an accident. She also finds letters from Sam that were intercepted by Heddie.

    Allison talks to Graham Knox (Peter Friedman), her gay upstairs neighbour about Heddie. Unfortunately, Heddie overhears the conversation and attacks Graham, killing him - or so we are lead to believe.

    Sam returns to town, and checks into a hotel. He calls Allison, but Heddie takes the call, and Heddie goes to the hotel dressed as Allison. They have a suitably sordid liaison, after which Heddie kills Sam in a most unusual manner.

    Finally we head to the first climax of the movie, where Allison is trapped inside Graham's apartment by Heddie, but manages to escape, and then the second climax of the movie, where Allison is trapped inside the basement of the apartment block, and lastly to the ultimate climax of the movie, in the elevator.

Transfer Quality


    This is a typical Columbia Tristar DVD transfer with very little to complain about indeed. The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was excellent, with no low level noise apparent.

    The colour was well rendered. The colours in this movie are all somewhat dark and muted, but that suits the tone of this movie.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. The only film-to-video artefact that I noticed came at occasional reel change points, where there was an effect as if the first frame was a fraction too high, and then the next frame was in the correct place, "slotting" into place. I have not seen this in previous Columbia Tristar transfers, and it is not a major bother. I've seen this happen frequently at the cinema, however. Film artefacts were few and far between, and not bothersome at all, though the odd amount of film grain was apparent now and then.


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 channel, surround encoded. Also present on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack in French. There is no 5.1 soundtrack on this DVD, nor are there any MPEG tracks at all on this DVD.

    Dialogue was always completely clear and intelligible.

    The musical score was often present, underscoring the action. It was an unremarkable soundtrack.

     The surround channel was used for music, ambience and occasional effects. As far as surround channels go, this was only lightly used to enhance the mood. It was not a particularly enveloping soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was not specifically used, being a matrix soundtrack, but low frequency music and effects were redirected to the subwoofer by the processor.

    Overall, the soundtrack was perfectly serviceable, but unremarkable.


    The only extra on this DVD is the theatrical trailer, presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (mixed in mono).


    Single White Female seems to be an amalgam of other movies, sort of like a cross between Pacific Heights and Fatal Attraction. There are no particular surprises, or totally unexpected plot twists to look forward to. The fight sequences are a little unconvincing. I did enjoy the climax (all three of them), but overall felt that this was just another somewhat formulaic movie with nothing special to say or offer.

    The video quality is up to the standard expected of Columbia Tristar.

    The audio quality is perfectly satisfactory without being exceptional.

Ratings (out of 5)


Michael Demtschyna
12th November 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer