Did we really need a “Single White Female” for the PG-13/“Gossip Girl” crowd? Certainly not if it’s like this 2011 effort from director Christian E. Christiansen (He’s apparently Danish) and writer Sonny Malhi (a debutant who also served as EP). Everything that should make a film like this work (or at least palatable) like exploitation goodies- Sex, nudity, and violence- is made near impossible by the restrictive mantra of getting that PG-13 rating in the US, begging the question of why even bother? The answer of course, is money. Sad, but true. Having said, that I didn’t like “Single White Female” much the first time, so that doesn’t help, either.
If there’s one thing to this film’s credit, it comes from a surprising source. Many have disagreed with me, but “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester (for me, the only one of the five main stars of that show with any talent) is actually well-cast as the psycho. She’s a beautiful girl (though she’s had to dye her hair here or else everyone would mix her up with lead actress Minka Kelly), but having seen snippets of “Gossip Girl” and now this, I can’t imagine her as an ingénue or innocent. She’s got ‘bitchy girl’ written all over her. She gives an interestingly ‘off’ performance here that thankfully doesn’t go into scenery-chewing, shrill territory like it could have. I like some of the nutty little things she does here, and I definitely think she’s a better actress than her more famous “Gossip Girl” alum Blake Lively (anyone else think she’s too young to already look so haggard and leathery? Just sayin’!), let alone the bland lead of this film, Minka Kelly. She’s not great, nor enough to save the film, but she’s OK and certainly starts out a lot more subtly than her “SWF” counterpart Jennifer Jason Leigh.
But this is just so routine and familiar that the restrictive rating really kills it, because without some titty or gore (a lesbian scene is hinted at but appallingly never actually shown), this film’s got nothing, really. It’s so tame that MTV could play it in between episodes of “The Hills” and “Jersey Shore” (With a slight edit or two, even Nickelodeon could play it). Mind you, “Jersey Shore” is actually a lot more explicit and trashy (Or <cough> so I’ve heard <cough> What?).
Meester’s not good enough to save it, and although the supporting cast of pretty TV people/teen movie alum (Meester, Kelly, Dobrev, Lanter, Michalka) and has-beens (Zane, Fisher, Arana) looks interesting on paper, you know you’re in trouble when Billy Zane is the most talented cast member. I haven’t forgiven Billy for “Titanic”, but he’s got charisma and is surely above this kind of thing. Cam Gigandet is still the worst living actor in my opinion, but there is good news, folks. He’s found a second facial expression. It’s interesting that he’s here because he’s an actor who has learned everything he knows about acting from watching Mark Wahlberg in “Fear”. So in addition to his patented menacing glower, he actually smiles! The bad news is, he’s still bland as hell. Also, at one point he visits a library. No way in hell am I buying Cam Gigandet as a guy who goes to the library. He waits a good 30 minutes before his shirt comes off, mercifully, though. Having said that, his target audience probably consider that a bad thing.
The other thing that shits me about this film is the cinematography by Phil Parmet. I’m gonna go on one of my patented filter rants here, so skip this if you’re sick of my ranting. Let me see if I have this correct. The college dorms here have yellow lighting, but the college classroom buildings have red lighting, and the library has blue lighting. What the hell? And what good is dim blue lighting in a library, anyway? How can you read anything like that?
Call it “She’s All Whack” or “Single White Bimbo”, this film isn’t as spectacularly awful and histrionic as I’d expected. It’s just low-key, dull, and formulaic in the extreme. A bad film, but not an extravagantly awful one. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.