High Fidelity Review
By Joe Lozito
Angst for the Memories
The characters in "High Fidelity" spend much of their time compiling Top 5 lists which meaninglessly rank their opinions on any category they deem worthwhile at the time. In keeping with the spirit of the film, which is based on the book by Nick Hornby, here are the Top 5 reasons to see "High Fidelity":
1. John Cusack. Not many actors can speak directly to the camera for the majority of a film without it becoming grating or otherwise distracting. John Cusack can. In a way he has been training for the role of Rob Gordon for his entire career. In films like "Say Anything...", "The Sure Thing" and "Grosse Pointe Blank", Mr. Cusack has honed the hapless good guy character - charming in his own clueless way - to a fine point. In "High Fidelity" that training pays off. Mr. Cusack gives a raw, honest portrayal of an all-too-early and all-too-familiar mid-life crisis.
2. Casting. Joining Mr. Cusack is a strong supporting cast of actors all fitting comfortably into the used-record store subculture that Rob inhabits. Jack Black is hysterically abrasive as Barry, and he is given a perfect comic partner in Todd Louiso as the near-comatose Dick. The biggest surprise may be Iben Hjejle ("Naked", "Mifune") as Laura, Rob's on-again, off-again girlfriend. The actress rises above scenes that play melodramatically at first to show a genuine caring for Rob - even with all his faults. She understands him, and it's clear they are good together. In the end, we're happy for them.
3. Material. Mr. Hornby's book survives the transplant from London to Chicago surprisingly well, and though the used-record business may seem dated by the Internet and MP3s, the heart of the material shines through.
4. Insight. The screenplay, co-written by Mr. Cusack, hits the nail squarely on the head about topics from making the perfect mix tape to hooking back up with an ex. The writers have a clear understanding of their characters as well as an understanding of the pitfalls of relationships. In a running gag, Rob rattles off a Top 5 list of break-ups which displays a variety of different and oddly real relationships.
5. Honesty. "High Fidelity" doesn't pull its punches. Mr. Cusack's character, and the others in the film, are not divided into good and bad, and they constantly make mistakes and wrong choices. They are, in a word, human. And watching them all interact has the feeling of...well...a finely crafted mix tape.