Revisiting Cameron Crowe's Singles
We continue our look back at the work of Cameron Crowe, with his cult hit, Singles...
"People need people, Steve. It has nothing to do with sex. OK, maybe 40 percent. 60 percent. Forget it." - Janet
After his success with a flurry of teen based movies, Cameron Crowe decided to move up a notch and look at the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20s in big city Seattle, which was going though a change in itself as the grunge movement was just set to explode and change the face of music as it was known.
Arranged in episodes rather than the normal non-stop film narrative, Singles focuses on a group of friends who live in the same building and hang out in the local coffeehouse. The central story focuses on Steve (Campbell Scott) and Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) who, after meeting at an Alice in Chains concert, fall in love and deal with the highs and lows of being in a relationship and dealing with the commitment that entails.
On the other end of the spectrum, waitress and Steve's ex-girlfriend Janet (Bridget Fonda) is desperately trying to win over grunge rocker Cliff (Matt Dillon), but the object of her affection is much harder to impress than she could have imagined.
Also living in the building is Debbie (Sheila Kelley) who, after many attempts to find love, has resorted to video dating with varied success and failure.
Thoughts & Reaction
Singles is the kind of movie that once you have finished watching the story seems more or less superfluous to the actual location and time it was set in. It is a fantastic example of early 90s America and one of the first and, indeed, best examples of movies made with Generation X in mind.
Set in Seattle, which was the centre of the grunge movement that took over the world in the early 90s, it lives and breathes the decade by way of emotion and music. Coming from the generation where divorced families were becoming the norm, it is little wonder that Generation X had their own issues with relationships and commitment which Crowe shows as best he can without dragging the story down too much. His gift for comedy at just the right moment also ensures that the plot stays fresh.
However, you can't but help feel that the main focus on the film is the music coming out of the city itself at the time, which ties in so nicely with Crowe's own experience of music journalism and thus is in very competent hands.
The film itself showcased not only the cream of the crop when it came to the grunge music the bands were producing, but also showed off their acting skills as they played characters and had cameos in the movie with bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains all making an appearance. Chris Cornell also took up the role of writing the songs for Cliff's band Citizen Dick, again showcasing the talent that was emerging in the 90s.
Testament to the popularity of the genre of music used, the Singles soundtrack became a bestseller three months before the movie opened. The only band noticeably lacking was Nirvana, whose anthem Smell's Like Teen Spirit had to be taken off the soundtrack as their success meant the song had become far too expensive to use. On a side note, apparently Kurt Cobain hated the movie, so it was probably best his song was omitted!
Upon its release, critics looked favourably upon Singles and, although it wasn't as successful as Cameron Crowe's previous teen romance outing Say Anything..., it became one of the defining relationship films of the 90s, leading the way for more introspective romantic comedies to be released.
The combination of comedy, romance and reality sparked an interest with distributer Warner Bros and they soon went into talks with Crowe to produce a show in a similar vein. Not too keen on the idea, he turned it down and, after a re-vamp, Singles became Friends, which, in turn, became one of the most popular TV shows of all time.
Crowe's next movie would be a slight step away from the complexities of love to the complexities of trying to build a life that you want rather than living for what you need. Next time I'll be showing you the money with Jerry Maguire.
Singles Key Info:
Released: September 18th 1992 (US) / 15th January 1993 (UK)
Distributed By: Warner Bros.
Budget: Unknown, but apparently small
Box Office Gross: $18,471,850
Best DVD Edition: Singles DVD