Synopsis: From the guys who brought you Grosse Pointe Blank comes the absolutely hilarious High Fidelity. John Cusack (Being John Malkovich) stars as Rob Gordon, the owner of a semi-failing record store located on one of the back streets of Chicago. He sells music the old-fashioned way, on vinyl, with his two wacky clerks — the hysterically funny rock snob Barry (Jack Black) and the more quietly opinionated underachiever Dick (Todd Louiso). But Rob’s business isn’t the only thing in his life that’s floundering — his needle skips the love groove when his longtime girlfriend Laura (newcomer Iben Hjejle) walks out on him. And this forces him to examine his past failed attempts at romance the only way he knows how! For a rocking fun time, give High Fidelity a spin. It’s sure to make your all-time top-five list for comedies — with a bullet!
High Fidelity 8.0
I was always under the impression that ‘High Fidelity’ was made by the same crew that made the brilliant ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’.
And while this comes as quite an unexpected surprise, I can’t say that I’m too disappointed – ‘cause I may otherwise not have taken the time to discover this nice little gem of a film.
I have been told by many that the movie pales in comparison to the book. For one, it’s been rewritten from a UK setting to a US one and many changes invariably had to be made. Personally, and having never read the book, I can’t say that I find anything lacking or see any noticeable gaps in the conversion process – it felt fine as a stand-alone piece.
‘High Fidelity’ is an off-beat film in many ways, though: it’s a film about love, but it’s not a romantic one, per se. And it’s a drama, but with a lot humour and whimsy interspersed throughout – so it’s not pure drama either. And, on the one hand, it’s about relationships – but, on the other, it’s really a music geekfest (it features a vinyl collector in the lead role, after all!)
And that’s one of the key distinguishing features of this film: It’s for collectors and music lovers alike: the main character, played by John Cusack, works and owns a record store, has been a DJ, and rubs shoulders with local musicians, audiophiles and other music geeks. So, invariably, the subculture that he belongs to spreads throughout the film and gives it a style that is very unique.
The acting ranges from subtle to exuberant, but it’s mostly solid and well-suited to the film. Frankly, Cusack’s two co-workers alone were worth the price of admission:
-Todd Louiso: he plays the shy, amiable nerd so perfectly that the character feels completely genuine. I know I’ve seen this exact same guy around before: in university, in record stores, at the library, on the bus, …etc. Perfect.
-Jack Black: it was this performance that got me to notice him for the first time. At this point in his career, and in retrospect, we have seen plenty of this characterization from him and it just seems like is playing himself. At the time, however, it was fresh and gut-bustingly hilarious.
The soundtrack, as one would expect, is pitch perfect; even though I don’t like all the bands that are featured in this film, all the bits were ideal for the world that they were creating here. As for the record store itself… well, I was pretty busy trying to pick out album covers, stickers and other familiar music-related things – so they must have done that right, too, I suspect
All in all, this movie could never hold a candle to ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’. But it’s certainly one of the better love-related film that I’ve seen – if only because of its unique approach and setting.