High Fidelity

"Very Good"

High Fidelity Review


John Cusack plays the bitterness of being dumped with droll aplomb in "High Fidelity," an observant and acerbic dark comedy in which he is our overly-reflective tour guide through the farcical misery of a bad breakup.

Cusack adapted the screenplay himself from Nick Hornsby's underground best-seller about a London slacker who opened a used record store in his 20s and has employed it as an excuse to never grow up.

For the film, the action is moved to Chicago (the star/screenwriter's old stomping grounds), where Rob Gordon (Cusack) hangs out all day in his shop full of tattered record bins plastered with radio station stickers, composing musically pretentious Top Five lists (Top Five Side-One First Tracks, Top Five Formerly Great Sell-Out Musicians) with his equally idle and smug clerks (Todd Louiso and Jack Black).

As the movie opens, Rob's live-in girlfriend Laura (Danish actress Iben Hjejle) is packing up and hitting the bricks. Realizing he can't talk her out of it, he turns instantly resentful and swears boisterously that she'll never make it onto his Top Five Worst-Ever Breakups -- which are subsequently cataloged in facetious flashbacks at various points throughout the movie.

Using his on-screen narration as a form of therapy and musical pop culture references as philosophy, Rob sulks around his cave-like pad full of second-hand furniture and concert posters, re-cataloging his endless LP collection and waxing huffy about his breakup to the audience. Then he has an epiphany: He'll track down those Top Five breakup girls and try to figure out what he keeps doing wrong.

In his grumpy funk, Rob can be a pretty grating guy, but Cusack's script and performance strike exactly the right balance between self-indulgent brooding and caustic comedy.

Directed by Stephen Frears ("Dangerous Liaisons," "The Snapper") with wall-to-wall wry, observational wit and fantastic attention to detail, "High Fidelity" is in many ways a mature and more accomplished extension of Cusack's teen comedies of the 1980s.

In addition to Rob, the poster-boy for romantic dysfunction and Generation X ennui, the movie is populated by three-dimensional version of stock characters from those teen flicks.

Tim Robbins plays the falsely-sensitive granola that Laura takes up with after leaving Rob. He's an "I can't believe she left me for that schmuck!" caricature of the way every guy sees his exes' new beaux.

Catherine Zeta-Jones (in an comical twist on the Unattainable Dream Girl character) and Lily Taylor (as an over-medicated former Misery Chick) have two-scene roles as Rob's No. 3 and No. 4 Worst-Ever Breakups. And instead of just being The Destiny Girl, Hjejle gets to develop the emerging maturity that leads her character to abandon Rob's perpetually pubescent world when she took a well-paying office job and let go her punk club-bunny roots.

Certainly one of the Top Five Best-Ever Breakup Movies, the spirit of "High Fidelity" comes from its underground mood, its continuous supply of hilariously perceptive asides (about, for instance, the science of making someone a mix tape) and its whimsical but realistic characters.

These elements -- plus Cusack's geeky charm and Frears' skilled direction -- distinguish "Hi Fi" from the vastly inferior and never-ending flow of soundtrack-driven, assembly-line romantic comedies that strive for nothing more than momentary hipness.

"High Fidelity" may be dated by its music and setting, but it will stand the test of time because it captures this generation's most common relationship foibles so amusingly.



High Fidelity

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st March 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $47.1M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Buena Vista

Production compaines: Buena Vista, Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 149 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Rob Gordon, as Laura, as Dick, as Barry, as Marie DeSalle, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Charlie Nicholson, as Liz, as Ian 'Ray' Raymond, as Vince, as Justin, as Sarah Kendrew, as Penny Hardwick, as Caroline Fortis, Shannon Stillo as Alison Jr. High, as Rob Jr. High, Laura Whyte as Laura's Mom, as Anaugh, Rich Talarico as Barry's Customer, Matthew O'Neill as Beta Band Customer (as Matt O'Neill), Brian Powell as Middle Aged Customer, Margaret Travolta as Rob's Mom, as Himself, Jill Peterson as Laura's Sister Jo, as Minister, Susan Yoo as Girl - 19 year old, as Paul, K. K. Dodds as Miranda, as Alison's Mom, Duke Doyle as Kevin Bannister, Aaron Himelstein as Boy In Park, Jonathan Herrington as Chris Thompson, Daniel Lee Smith as Rock Guy, Leah Gale as Mourner, David Darlow as Mourner, Erik Gundersen as Marco, Alex Désert as Louis (as Alex Desert), Alan S. Johnson as Man In Store, Ian Belknap as Party Guest, Andrew Micheli as Party Guest, Polly Noonan as Party Guest, Philip Rayburn Smith as Party Guest, Michele Graff as Party Guest, as Party Guest, Liam Hayes as Piano Player, Damian Rogers as Greenday Girl, Robert A. Villanueva as Skateboarder, Joe Spaulding as Flea Market Musician, Scott A. Martin as Bartender, Heather Norris as Laura's Friend

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.