Movie Review: High Fidelity

By Erik Petersen
Movie Magazine International
Directed by Stephen Frears, “High Fidelity” stars John Cusack as Rob Gordon, the immature owner of Championship Vinyl, a struggling record store in downtown Chicago. Cusack, who also shares screenwriting credit, portrays another heroic outcast as he largely carries the film on his shoulders. Based on the great novel of the same title by author Nick Hornby, the film tells the story of Cusack and his two employees Dick and Barry who all share an obsession with pop music. When they’re not insulting customers they spend their days assembling top ten lists of the greatest songs about love, death or the in between part, breaking-up.

Jack Black as the acerbic Barry, has a terrific turn as the music obsessed geek who has found his perfect place in the world, a record store for obscure and long forgotten vinyl oddities. Here Barry and his introverted coworker Dick, played with painful shyness by Todd Louiso, can feel superior to the rest of the world while surrounding themselves with pop music treasures.

Overall the cast is pretty amazing, in addition to Cusack and Black, Tim Robbins appears as a sensitive new age goof along with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet, Lili Taylor, Sara Gilbert and Joan Cusack. There’s also a funny little cameo by Bruce Springsteen that brought a smile to my face. In fact the only weak link is Danish actress Iben Hjejle, who plays Laura, Cusack’s love interest. She delivers a tepid performance belying the emotional turmoil her character is supposed to be suffering.

And that’s really the trouble with this film. In the book what made for a thoughtful rumination on the state of modern love is played here strictly for laughs. While Cusack is funny as he seeks to find some meaning among the wreckage of a series of long term relationships, “High Fidelity” lacks the poignancy and depth that the novel has. You never really feel like the main character is suffering, all we see is the selfishness and sometimes what could pass for boyish charm but there is never any real growth. The film has a great soundtrack and quite a few laughs but if you want to know what you’re missing read the book. I’m Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
More Information:
High Fidelity
USA - 2000