High Fidelity (2000) is potentially one of the most comforting and reassuring films to watch the second you have a shitty break up, regardless of: age, gender, sexual orientation etc. This gem of a film offers comfort for anyone from any background for the simple reason that; breaking up is hard for anyone and conjures up the same responses and feelings. That might be a bit of a ‘well duh’ statement for some of you, but I think the Hollywood sheen of romance is tarnished and dirtied in the most refreshing way, in this Nick Hornby adaptation – not many films are able to boast such a claim while connecting with a wide range of people.
As always, there will be virtually no spoilers and a quick plot synopsis for anyone who hasn’t seen the film. Based on the novel of the same title by, Nick Hornby and directed by, Stephen Frear’s; High Fidelity, shows the mental torture a break up can induce and the questions it leaves behind. The plot follows a record store owner called, Rob Gordon, played impeccably by John Cusack, who shares with us, his top five break ups (and other ‘top five’ lists, which is a recurring theme throughout). He attempts to go on a spiritual journey by contacting each girl that ever rejected him so he can win back his ex girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle) and includes a wealth of stars, such as: Catherine Zeta Jones, Tim Robins, Jack Black and Joan Cusack. Now you have the basic idea of what I’m gabbing on about, without further ado, in no particular order, here are my top five things I love about High Fidelity. If you feel differently, please comment and let me know what your ‘top five’s’ are.
1) The Soundtrack
The plot as you already know follows a guy called Rob who owns a record store and the guys that he works with having debates and strong opinions on music; the film starts with him addressing music theory with a slight depressive ‘indie’ view – popular music is making him miserable. While including songs from my favourite artists such as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Harry Nilsson, The Chemical Brothers and Stevie Wonder, it features little tit-bits of information and bands that I personally have overlooked, such as The Stiff Little Fingers and Grand Funk Railroad. This is not a music review; this is just my opinion on what I believe to be a kick-ass soundtrack. It has the perfect mix of contemporary underground and popular bands from all eras, the music contemplates the mood and feelings expressed in the movie at the time and truly, that is a strong selling point for anyone that gets emotionally attached to a film. If your iTunes has a separate genre for ‘soundtracks’ or if you are like me and talk about the Juno soundtrack before you talk about the film itself then I reckon you should get yourself on IMDB and check out the full listing. The soundtrack and discussions aren’t without a sense of irony, as it is mentioned that Rob and his staff are ‘music snobs’ – I personally hate music snobbery and I believe that Thou Shalt Always Kill by Dan le Sac ft. Scroobius Pip sums it up perfectly: ‘The Pixies? Just a band.’ Although I love iconic bands like Nirvana and The Beatles, I don’t hold them up on a pedestal and I also think that if they were around on MySpace and then eventually came into fame I wouldn’t be a douche about it, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Anyway, I digress; it’s a wicked soundtrack, go listen to it.
2) The Quotes
Although this is a bit vast for a review, I think the quotes and dialogue make this film perfect; the whole ‘sex with Ian’ internal monologue just rang so true to me. We’ve all found out our ex is seeing someone else and fixate on who that person is and if they are truly enjoying it, I guess the conflict I have with this is that, Rob is supposed to be a grown man and although human nature permits jealousy and obsessive behaviour I don’t think I’d act the way he does –but I guess that’s part of the magic. One quote from this film always reminds me of when you get comfortable in a relationship and stop making the special effort that you perhaps made a few months earlier, for example shaving your legs and not shovelling food into your mouth like a gremlin. Rob Picks up Laura’s shitty cotton underpants and realises the following:
“Look at these. I used to dream I’d be surrounded by exotic women’s underwear forever and ever. Now I know they just save their best pairs for the nights they know they’re going to sleep with somebody.”
It’s true, and again brings back my point that this film is accessible from every angle, I do it and my ex boyfriends thought it.
3) Removing The Fourth Wall
When other films do this it can seem a bit arrogant, I don’t like to be reminded that I’m watching a film and when a character addresses the camera it makes me realise that the world I’m in is a little less exciting. However, when Rob Gordon turns to the camera and gives me wonderful insight into his mind, it makes the film come alive and rather than reminding me of my own life, it draws me further into his. I become personally involved in Rob as a character and the possibility that he could be real, and this just makes me fall in love with the film even more. Another helpful part of the removal of the fourth wall is that those parts offer up the best quotes and helps you feel a little more normal for thinking the same thing, when Rob exits the foreground and fades into the background to tell you something clever, funny and truthful about relationships, it gives the viewer a sensation of a pat on the back. Well it does with me anyway…
4) The Lack Of Romantic Gestures
High Fidelity is NOT like The Notebook, it doesn’t put a diamond shine on grand gestures that only ever happen in the movies, it’s truthful. Although the ending is slightly predictable and the typical rom-com story arc is followed, it doesn’t give off the sick bucket vibe. It’s all done with the same ease and casualness of talking about the weather or what you did at work, and I think that’s rare. Even 500 Days of Summer is unbelievable, but it’s still a good film. High Fidelity isn’t gritty and doesn’t make you feel bad when things are bad, you handle the ups and downs of this film in the same way you handle the ups and downs of life- how perfect. There’s no holding a boom box outside her window as Cusack is so famously known for, there’s no running through an airport shouting, there’s no turning up just as she’s about to leave and all is forgiven. Rob Gordon fucks up as much as anyone else does; perhaps more so than most, but believe me, it happens. These reasons contribute to how you’ll feel when Rob has the occasional shining moment of doing something right. What an awesome film.
5) Top Five Things I Miss About Her
What I’d love to do is list the top five things he misses and break down why each one is so fantastically amazing and also how if I got wind of anyone saying those things about me, I would be so overwhelmed I would get back together with them for the sake of it (there are a few that I would do the ‘well you shouldn’t have been a total bastard, but thanks for the compliment’). Alas, I don’t want to spoil one of the cutest moments in film history for the people that haven’t seen this film. So I guess you’ll just have to watch it and find out – and if you’ve already seen it, I bet you want to watch it again. I only saw it yesterday and I want to see it again.
Oh yeah, The Boss gives Rob a little relationship advice while breaking the fourth wall and playing guitar. Watch this fucking film.