Tuesday, September 25, 2007

High Fidelity: An Old Review

This is from 2004. Feel free to poke fun at its wretchedness.

Here we are again with another delectable romantic comedy starring none other than John Cusack who has established himself as one of todays leading actors for this genre. Adapted from the popular novel from British author Nick Hornby, Cusack plays Rob, a cynical thirty-something year old bloke who is a complete music geek and owns his own record shop. When the story begins he has just broken up with his long time girl-friend Laura (Iben Hjejle) and handles the situation by recounting his Top 5 most memorable break-ups. He is fond of making lists, not only for displaying his musical interests but also as a way to organize his life. Personally, Rob is one of the most identifiable characters that I have come across in the movies. We seem to have a lot in common and the striking contrasts are uncanny. We have both gone through some rocky relationships, making lists of everything has become a sort of ritual and if you replace his obsession over music with movies, that is pretty much me in nutshell.

Being a huge fan of the book, I was surprised in how well they kept faithful to the source material even though the setting of London was changed to Chicago which is not a big deal at all. John Cusack even collaborated on the screenplay which is very well written, sharp, clever, humorous, and flows consistently. The use of voice-over-narration is well done and having Cusack look straight into the camera and talk to the audience (adopted from Woody Allen's character Alvy Singer Annie Hall) is also helpful in engaging the viewer with him on a more personal level. The use of flash-backs as Robs narrates his earlier relationships with other women is insightful and quite funny at times as well.

His two best friends Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black) work for him in the store and they are also music snobs. Lousio plays the perfect loser while Jack Black is hysterical and steals every scene he finds himself in. Black is playing his same eccentric self but this time around he doesnt come off as annoying. Instead, because of the great script, he is able to spit out lines that are so funny and his wacky behaviour is a complete riot. Black also gets the oppportunity to display his singing voice by and the man definately has some talent in the vocal department.His rendtion of Marvin Gaye's famous love song "Let's Get it On" is one of the many highlights of this movie.

There is one scene in particular that really stands out in its comedic hilarity (it always manages to put me in stitches) but also captures an all too real situation that everyone can relate to in one way or another. Laura's new boyfriend Ian (Tim Robbins with a ponytail) visits Rob at his record shop and tells him to stop stalking them. He responds with a simple ok and Ian leaves. It then cuts to three different scenarios of the same awkward situation that are imagined by Rob in what he should have said or done to Ian at that particular moment. Not only is it very funny but also quite identifiable. How many times have we all been in some sort of situation where we acted a certain way and reflecting on it later, realizing that the outcome could have been completely different if only we conducted ourselves in another way? Personally, I have been in this situation so many times before and witnessing Rob going through the same feelings of regret is comforting.

Affable and full of wit, High Fidelity manages to balance comedy with drama so elegantly. Rob's story is so absorbing that carries a sense of pathos as the audience is pulled directly into his life. He is a confused, jaded and frustrated man who just wants to make up with his girlfriend but in the process, embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The break-up with Laura sends him searching for meaning in his life that just seemed to resonate with me. The problems he has to face and his experiences in dealing with life carry a strong sense of honesty and are completely understandable. The replay value is through the roof and seems to improve with increased viewings. If you love music and romantic comedies, High Fidelity should not be missed.


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