By Dan Skip Allen
As far as slacker comedies go, High Fidelity is one of the best ones. A cool soundtrack and a relatable story and characters make it a memorable film. Growing up and moving into adulthood in the nineties, I can see how this film has transcended time. Throw in the romantic angle, and you have a very entertaining film. John Cusack has made a niche for himself in these types of films, many of which stand the test of time. A great supporting cast also helps it stay relevant 20 years later. It's one of the best films of its kind.
Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is a record store owner in Chicago. He's trying not to grow up, but life keeps smacking him in the face. He has gone through many girlfriends and agonizes over each one for days on end. His current ex, Laura (Iben Hjejle), is the one he's brooding over right now, but of course, there is always a next (Lisa Bonet). His store workers Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso) keep him sane even though they are quite odd and annoying at times. They won't quit or go away.
Rob's relationships are a huge part of the film. He breaks the fourth wall and explains why he loved them and how they broke up. He even lists them in order of most to least painful. He goes into all the details of his relationships, especially with Laura. If you didn't know any better you'd think it was written by Cameron Crowe. Nick Hornby channeled him if I do say so myself. Sarah (Lili Taylor), Charlie (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Penny (Noelle Carter) are other ex-girlfriends he obsesses over as well.
Nick Hornby has made a career for himself writing a mix of dramas like An Education, About a Boy, and Brooklyn, and romantic comedies like Fever Pitch and Juliet, Naked. The tip of the iceberg for him is High Fidelity. He captures this world of a record store owner pining over all of these women. The dialogue is so spot on. The relationships seem so vividly real. Add in the direction and editing and you have a great film that stands the test of time. It seems like this story could take place in any decade but it does fit into the middle of the '90s and 2000's perfectly.
Along with the great cast already mentioned, cameos by Bruce Springsteen and Sarah Gilbert all help add depth to the story. The film is about Rob finding himself and why he needs to figure his life out. Laura wants to get away from him but they keep finding ways to get into each other's orbit. This is not healthy for him. All she wants to do is leave him and his drama alone. It doesn't help that she's sacked up with their upstairs neighbor Ian (Tim Robbins). Even his sister keeps telling him to leave her alone.
High Fidelity is an entertaining film that has a lot to say about relationships in the windy city and the pain and suffering a man can put himself through thinking about his past loves and losses. Each time he sees one of them he gets worse and worse. Using a film line, Rob can't find a way to edit it all out of his life. That's what's driving him mad. He always wants the answers. I can say from living life as long as I have that you're never going to get the answers you're looking for. It's easier to just keep getting up and about and doing your thing day after day. Eventually, you'll forget about the painful days. Women are a dime a dozen. They come and they go. There will always be another one right around the corner.
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