High Fidelity (2000)

Favorite Films

Directed by Stephen Frears

Written by D.V. DeVincentis, & Steve Pink, & John Cusack and Scott Rosenberg

Based on the novel by Nick Hornby

Starring John Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Louiso, Iben Hjejle, & Lisa Bonet

With Joelle Carter, Joan Cusack, Lili Taylor, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sara Gilbert, & Tim Robbins

Release Date: March 31, 2000

Running Time: 1hr 53min

Rating: R

Rob Gordon (Cusack) is a 30 something curmudgeon music lover who owns a used record store in downtown Chicago. His employees are the energetic Barry (Black) and soft spoken Dick (Louiso), who share Rob’s encyclopedic knowledge of music, often clashing with one another over their music lists. Rob has recently broken up with longtime girlfriend Laura (Hjejle), and thinks about the worst heartbreaks in his life, wondering why he can’t find romantic happiness.

He tries to act like the recent breakup isn’t a big deal (claiming she wouldn’t even make it in his Top 5 worst breakups in chronological order), but it doesn’t take long for him to miss her like crazy. Making matters worse, Laura has started seeing a new age pretentious type guy named Ian (Robbins), who lives above Rob. He then decides to track down the ex girlfriends that really broke his heart, wanting to see where it all went wrong.

At the time, the film was a minor hit upon release, earning $47.1 million against a $30 million budget. It was met with plenty of critical enthusiasm too, with a lot of praise going to the performances and humor. Cusack was Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (plus there were other award nominations/wins), and in years since has appeared on many “best of” lists. On February 14, 2020, a TV adaptation premiered on Hulu, with ZoĆ« Kravitz in the lead role and the series being set in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York.

I remember seeing ads for it on TV, but it being rated R, and I being 12 at the time of release, I didn’t get around to seeing it in theaters. I saw it I believe a year or two after its initial release via a DVD copy my older brother had. I would eventually get my own copy of the movie and watch it every year or so, plus show it to any close friend that hadn’t seen it either. I would also get around to reading the book sometime in my mid to late 20s, while reading I imagined who would play the UK (ie book) versions of the characters.

I would like to point out that the trailer makes the movie look a bit more upbeat than it is. While it’s a comedy, it’s definitely more of the bittersweet one. Wouldn’t be surprised if that factored in its underwhelming box office performance. I think a more honest trailer would’ve interested more people, knowing that it wasn’t a typical romcom.

This is definitely a movie I love! I guess that’s pretty obvious, since the top text says Favorite Films, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This is a solidly made movie with great performances all around. For the time it was made, I can’t picture a better actor for the lead role. Cusack has a knack for playing sad-sack characters who are still likable. Black and Louiso round out the trio of music lovers, all have believable chemistry. They might give each other shit at times (as friends often do), but when something good happens to the other they’ll be supportive (as friends also often do); best example being with Dick gets a girlfriend (Gilbert) and Barry cheers him on.

I myself am an obsessive collector (mostly of movies and comics, plus action figures, but I do have some vinyl record as well), and I know all about living in my head, obsessing over things and making lists of the things I find important. I also enjoy the narrative device of a protagonist talking to the camera when done right (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off comes to mind). So yeah, if you haven’t seen it yet, do!

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