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Hollywood Spotlight - Reviews [High Fidelity]
ORIGINAL FULL FILM REVIEW
A comedy about fear of commitment, hating your job, falling in love and other pop favorites.
R (for language and some sexuality)
John Cusack , Steve Pink , Scott Rosenberg , Nick Hornby, D V DeVincentis
Tim Bevan and Rudd Simmons
John Cusack , Tod Luiso, Jack Black, Iben Hjejle, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack , Sara Gilbert
· Synopsis:[Recommended Reading] In a biting romantic comedy, Rob Gordon is the owner of a semi-failing record store in Chicago, where he sells music the old-fashioned way -- on vinyl. He's a self-professed music junkie who spends his days at Championship Vinyl with his two employees, Dick and Barry. Although they have an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music and are consumed with the music scene, it's of no help to Rob, whose needle skips the love groove when his long-time girlfriend, Laura, walks out on him. As he examines his failed attempts at romance and happiness, the process finds him being dragged, kicking and screaming, into adulthood.
T hese days, it seems like anything goes in the dating scene. Brutal honestly and payback have their way with those not prepared to deal with it. When you're playing the game, you've got to face it: sometimes you've just got to take the punches and keep moving. But over time, it can be easy to lose sight of the goal. What are you looking for? Sex? Love? Happiness? Have you found them? I mean, truly? While for some sex may not be a tremendous challenge, love and happiness seem to be ever evasive – and ultimately the more desirable.
Rob Gordon is just a dude like millions of others out there who play the game, but with one exception: he's finally beginning to sort things out. Amid the chaos and confusion of a mid-life crisis Rob Gordon [John Cusack] relates to the audience the trials and tribulations of love and happiness in his life. As Rob begins to tell of his past loves and flings, you begin to put the pieces together and realize why this man is so torn: he seems to be doomed to romantic failure. Every man's worst nightmare. Inexplicable, intimate inadequacy leaving a depressive Rob searching for answers where there seem to be none. For quite some time, things seemed to be fine between Rob and his girlfriend Laura [Iben Hjejle] – until, that is, the timer runs out and out with it walks Laura, straight into the arms of her newfound lover, Ian [Tim Robbins]. Rob can't seem to understand why it is that he has been cursed with repeat "romantic" failures, and so he confronts his past to figure out the cause.
This story contains several unique qualities that make the characters seem to come alive. Rob, for example is the owner of a fledgling record shop, Championship Vinyl in the suburbs of Chicago. A walking musical reference, he is an avid pop music fan (junkie?) who works his shop with two employees – err... "friends" – Dick and Barry. Rob has an interesting habit of expressing himself to women by "making tapes" of music that he mixes together, all of which supposedly sum up his feelings and thoughts towards that person. Okay, so he's no poet, but somewhat unusual. Dick [Todd Louiso] and Barry [Jack Black] are tremendous additions to an eclectic cast who personify "the meek" and "the bold" respectively. For his first major role, Todd Louiso performs valiantly as an introverted, life-starved twenty-something who will do anything to be the best friend he can. Jack Black, who has had a diverse acting career, adds the perfect touch of bold sarcasm and general facetiousness becoming of such a character. All around, I found the acting in High Fidelity to be both believable and enjoyable.
Director, Stephen Frears [Mary Reilly, Dangerous Liasons] keeps it simple with classic, proven filming models from the lead character performing an alternating, narrative role to spliced alternate reality takes which lead into the actual event. Frears has had considerable experience in directing both TV and film. But as yet, no blockbuster hits. It would seem that Frears tried to "play it safe" by not attempting to dazzle the audience with dramatic or tacky effects. As such, High Fidelity is a seamless, almost elegant presentation of clean-cut scenes. Frears has put together a film which, if it had to be stuffed into a box with a label, would be labeled as a "romantic comedy" with the laughs outweighing the mushy stuff.
All in all, if you enjoy comedy and/or romance, or even the combination thereof, you'll probably enjoy High Fidelity. From a comedy standpoint, although not at all times 100% original, it will still have you laughing. From the romance side of things, this movie offers a realistic, modern and humorous look at dating, love, happiness and rejection, and one man's personal quest for self-fulfillment. Not surprisingly, as the story centers on a record shop owner, High Fidelity offers a versatile sound track covering all ends of the spectrum. Since this film does not sport a variety of fantastical effects, don't expect any magic in the surround sound department. I give the thumbs up on a fun, adventurous movie that captivated me and pulled me into the story for the full hour and forty-five.