Sometimes when I think back to the movies I loved as a teenager, I find it hard to decide on if I loved it because of the movie itself, or the soundtrack. With regards to today’s movie, I think it was pretty equal in regards to how much I enjoyed them. This movie and soundtrack came out right when I was in high school, having just moved to another state, and starting to figure out who I was going to be and both of them just appealed to me on various levels. So let’s head back and get a glimpse of the Seattle scene during the blossoming “Grunge” era as I watch today’s movie, Singles.
The plot: Linda Powell is an environmentalist living in Seattle and happy to have her own place. One day she meets Luiz, a tourist from Spain who is only in the country for a few more days. After talking with her friend Ruth about Luiz, Linda decides to make the most of her time with Luiz and starts a brief relationship with him. The night before he is supposed to leave, Luiz gives Linda a ring to remember him by and she gives him her garage door opener, her most prized possession. The next night, Linda and Ruth go out dancing and as they stop to get a drink at the bar, she sees Luiz there with another girl and when he notices her, he just shrugs his shoulders. Linda and Ruth quickly leave the club, with Linda crying once she gets outside, and the next day, Linda buys herself a new garage door opener. Steve Dunne lives in an apartment complex which caters to mostly single bedroom apartments with his friends Janet Livermore and Cliff Poncier. While Steve is contemplating his love life and decides to focus on work, Janet is seeing Cliff, who is a musician as well as doing odd jobs to help pay the bills, but Cliff is not as serious about the relationship as Janet is. One night, Steve is at a club with his friend David Bailey and he sees Linda and Ruth there. Steve approaches Linda and tries talking to her but she dismisses him and as she is leaving , he tries asking her if she would like to go somewhere else but she refuses. Steve and David leave and stop at a newsstand, where David brags about getting 20 girls’ phone numbers, when they happen to see Linda and Ruth stop at the stand and Steve and Linda end up talking. Steve calls up Linda a few days later and they meet for lunch and end up talking the entire time. That night, Linda is doing laundry at Steve’s place since her machine is broken and she asks him about his neighbors at the complex and he tells her about Cliff, Janet, David, and Debbie. As her clothes are drying, Steve invites her in to his apartment and the connect even more and almost kiss but Linda pulls back and goes to get her clothes. As she is leaving, Linda freaks out when Steve offers her a garage door opener so she can use the underground garage the next time she comes over and quickly leaves. When she gets home, she thinks back on Steve and starts to smile when Steve shows up at her place, and she kisses him and brings him inside, where they have sex. The next day, Steve is talking with David, Janet, Cliff, and Debbie about how he should handle things with Linda and they convince him not to call right away and he ends up not calling for 4 days, which upsets Linda and she breaks things off with him. Meanwhile, Janet is feeling insecure in her relationship with Cliff and decides to get a boob job. However as she is about to be prepped for the procedure, she changes her mind and decides she want Cliff to love her for who she is so she cancels the surgery, helping the doctor get more confidence in himself at the same time, and breaks things off with Cliff. Debbie decides to use a video dating service to meet someone and has Steve, Janet, Cliff, and David choose the guy she should meet. When she arranges the date, there is confusion over the location to meet and she learns that her date left a message saying he will meet her at her apartment. When she gets there, she finds her date flirting with her roommate Pam, and learns that the two have a history, and she argues with Pam about this but Pam lets Pam have the guy in exchange for $80 and her doing the dishes for a month. Meanwhile, Linda calls Steve and tells him that she is late and after they do a home pregnancy test, she confirms that she is pregnant. Steve says they should get married and after they discuss things, Linda agrees to it but when they get in a car wreck, she ends up losing the baby. When she recovers, she tells Steve that she needs to get away for a while and collect her thoughts so she heads out on an oceanic environmental trip for a month. When she returns, things are uncomfortable between them and Steve says they don’t have to go back to how they were and can start over and Linda agrees. However, Steve knows he made a mistake and tries calling her to explain that he asked her to marry him because he loved her and he wants to be with her but her answering machine eats the tape and so she doesn’t hear it. Debbie flies to Cabo and ends up sitting next to an annoying kid but when she lands, she meets the kid’s father, who compliments her on her favorite earrings and they end up falling in love. The man wants her to move to Mexico and until she is able to get a job there, he sends her flowers every day. Steve ends up losing his job at the Department of Transportation when the Mayor rejects his plans for building a super train to help relieve the city’s traffic problem. Falling into a depression over everything that happened, he starts to turn into a shut in and Janet pays him a visit and tries to convince him that things will get better. Cliff realizes that he misses Janet and tries to win her back but she tells him that she is finally over him. Linda has moved back in with her ex-boyfriend Andy but when she breaks a plate, she thinks back to her time with Steve and goes to see him. The two end up getting back together and finding a place of their own while Cliff and Janet also end up back together after they end up on an elevator together and Cliff says “Bless You” when she sneezes, which is something that Janet had wanted him to do in the past.
Singles met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Smart, funny, and engagingly scruffy, Singles is a clear-eyed look at modern romance that doubles as a credible grunge-era time capsule.” The movie’s soundtrack, featuring several bands that were prominent in the upcoming Seattle music scene, came out 3 months before the movie was released and became a best selling CD. Singles was a modest hit at the box office, earning $18.5 million off of a $9 million budget.
Watching it now, I think I would have to give my appreciation to the soundtrack an edge over the movie but this is still a great movie to watch. The acting was great, with Kyra Sedgwick (Linda), Bridget Fonda (Janet), Campbell Scott (Steve), and Matt Dillon (Cliff) all doing great jobs in their roles. I will admit that it is a little sad to see Alice In Chains and Soundgarden performing in this movie, as both Chris Cornell and Layne Staley both died. The story was interesting as it kept jumping back and forth between the different people, with several times the characters would break the 4th wall and address the audience at times. I did like the relationship struggles that they presented in the movie and how they showed each characters way of dealing with their problems and resolutions. The soundtrack was amazing and is still something I listen to on a semi-regular basis, with almost all of the songs being from bands that were from Seattle or coming up in the Seattle scene. A great movie and a great soundtrack, both of which are worth watching and listening too.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5