Sunday, 7 August 2016

Check the Gate: Single White Female

Have you ever heard the expression, 'I'm/you're being single white female-ed'? If not, there is a good chance you haven't seen or heard of this 90s thriller. But if you have, you might not have even seen the film to know what this means.

The film is actually based on the book, 'SWF Seeks Same' by John Lutz, which I never knew until I was looking up the film before I saw it last week. The story is about no so typical independent women, Allie. A computer software designer who has the perfect life. Great job working for herself, amazing apartment and a finace to boot. But when she discovers that he has cheated on her, everything comes crashing down. To have some company in her wonderfully lavish New York apartment, she puts out an add for a roomate. Enter Hedra, a meek looking woman who seems a perfect fit for Allie. Soon becoming great friends, shopping together, adoopting a dog and generally having a fun time. But someting isn't quite right about Hedra, or Hedy as she is now known. She starts buying the same outfits as Allie, lying about things, keeping secrets, deleting Allie's messages and stealing her mail. She even gets the same hairstyle at Allie to the point they look like twins.

Single White Female directed by Barbet Schroeder was one of the films screened as part of Park Circus and the Prince Charles Cinema's film for Check the Gate, a celebration of celluloid. I was lucky to see the sold out showing of Thelma and Louise last month and decied to keep up the feminist feel in my films with this screening.

 Upon arrival at the cinema, I always get a buzz of excitment as you know you're in for a great evening whenever you step through those doors, this was no different. Except this time, my friend and I were given a SWF zine and a mask. Not your average screening. The film screening was presented by The Final Girls, a screening series that explores the intersection between horror films and feminism. The zine that was handed out goes into why the film was chosen to be screened. The two women who presented these insights were brilliant. I've never been into the horror genre but when they talked about the Hedra Carlson being one of the most underrated villians, delving into her emotional state and that she was in fact the heroine rather than Allie's 'cool girl' who is actually an unrealistic character, I was intrigued to find out more. The Final Girls even got me hooked into going to other events they were presenting (waiting on info about these but I intend to go). They've opened my eyes to the possiblities of the horror genre. I do still see SWF as a thriller but the changes that Hedy goes through and the realisation that Allie has little to no way out, is more like a horror film.

As this was the first time I had seen the film, I had the joy of seeing it from a fresh perspective. There are some amusing scenes and lines where I did laugh out loud but I wasn't alone. But I don't agree that it was a complete trash thriller featuring the now typical 'crazy woman' or as The Final Girls said, 'woman from hell' trope. There is a trashy quality to the film but I liked it this way. There are several things happening that gives the films deeping meaning, especially if you wanted to delve deeper into Hedy's mind, but its also an inconic film with a great villain. The film has coined the phrase 'I'm/you're being single white female-ed' and just goes to show the power of cinema.

A brilliant film that I might have over looked. I'll be on the look out for more from The Final Girls as well as some 'classics' that I might have missed. If you're still not sure about the phrase, I suggest you watch the film, it will explain everything.

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