John Cusack Deals with Breaking Up in High Fidelity

For the 100th time I started watching High Fidelity. I felt the need this time because for once I would be able to relate to its main theme and general topics. It’s a story about breaking up, insecurity, cheating, the inability to grow and simultaneously clinging on to artistic tastes and holding those things you love above the other person in your relationship and also heavily speaking about obsessiveness and an incessant need for self indulgence. Before I could relate to many things about this film but now I find myself feeling its content to a new level.. and relating to everything in it, entirely.
The Story

Hight Fidelity is an adaptation by the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby. The story is about Rob Gordon who is going through a break up. A long relationship now severed, Rob enters a depressive state and begins contemplating his romantic history and the misery of previous breakups. Simultaneously we see the couples story as the general post-break up activity occurs. It is the story of thirty-something Rob who’s going through a ‘mid-life crisis’ dealing with personal problems as hes attempting to keep his record store operational. He is facing the fact that he is growing up and that his juvenile tendencies may soon be coming to an end.. Filled with introspection and general relationship pondering, we find a direct line into a males view of the matters of the heart.
Hight Fidelity by Stephen Frears

The film is amazingly close to the novel. It did a wonderful job of keeping all its vital portions, while adding good material that is better suited for the different medium. It brought the characters to life and stayed faithful to the qualities that originally made lovable or detestable.

It is filled with spot on acting, engaging direction, and a great ability to tell a story. It handles the back and forth of narration and visualization well. We never feel as if the first person storytelling is becoming indulgent and when we leave the narration, we never feel a disconnect. It also doesn’t make light of the serious topics being discussed but it finds a way to infuse comedic pauses that allow the viewer to not get over impressed with the depressive, overly despondent nature. Much like the novel it’s a comedy that takes the dramatic portions serious.. except the film does it in an opposite form.

A great aspect about the film is its candid ability to tell a real story. At the beginning of the film were given a general view of a situation but progressively we are opened up to the reality of what the situation really is. Details about the main characters life are revealed and the perspective of the situation is changed and we see how contrary to the characters point of view, everything is not as we usually want to make it out to be. It flips the story on its head and makes us re-evaluate was we originally perceived. It shows many things candidly. How we often choose to disregard obvious details of our lives and how we often times ignore obvious faults and characters issues. The film does a good job of being earnest while still accomplishing its goal of telling a comedic dramatic story.

The Novel

High Fidelity is a novel written in 1995 by Nick Hornby. Yet, it is as fresh a read now in 2011, as it must have been at its release. (Now this dude, Nick, he is a guy who has produced a few famous novels called Fever Pitch and About a Boy and the almost sister novel to Hight Fidelity: Juliet, Naked .) The novel is completely and absolutely the realing of Rob Gordon. It is written as if it were a journal. I would say a diary, but of course being a male that would sound much to infantile. Rob is a pop music freak. Completely obsessed with it. He own a semi-failing record store. Since its location is in a place where it attracts a minimum of window shoppers, it remains open only because of the sort of customers that make an effort to shop there. His Girlfriend, Laura, has just left him. Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, according to his ideology, how could he have spent the rest of his living days, with a person that has a horrible record collection? “High Fidelity” is basically Rob rethinking his life. Would it be better to move on and try to find the ideal girl? or: Should he realize that its never been her (or any other hers.. past girlfriends..) that have been the problem of his relationships.. but maybe the problem is him? In a story that intertwines with past loves and possibly future ones, and the zany antics of a couple offbeat record store clerks, Hight Fidelity is a comical story about growing up male.. and how much it can suck at times.

The Topics of Discussion

Rob: ‘Are we listening to pop music because were miserable? Or are we miserable because we listen to pop music?’

The main topic of discussion is infidelity. It digs deep into it and analyzes it. Never coming of preachy it merely gives one characters journey into experiencing it. Making it not actually about the judgment but about the behavior that occurs once someone experiences the foul infliction. In High Fidelity as we see John Cusack’s character Rob Gordon go through his mental processes of his feelings and emotions we are both entertained by it and also curiously intrigued by the different details that have shaped his life. His introspection shows a type of reflection that many of us have gone through and we can relate to how many memories from the past aren’t remembered correctly and how we tend to forget many of our own faults. His narration with its speculation and constant analyzing makes the whole process an interesting pondering experience.
I love the film because of its depressive nature. It revels in it and makes no apology for the blatant realism of what occurs in real life. Also, when the comedic portions occur, they themselves are dark and despondent as well. I being someone who is the epitome of despondency love the nature of the film and find hilarity in its black humor. It really never gets old, despite having watched it a myriad of times.
The film also deals heavily with the topic of loving art. Mainly it speaks on love of Music but in essence its about any type of art. I could relate to it seeing as how I am utterly and completely in love with films. I am or at least tend to get obsessive about films. I love the way elaborate stories can be expressed in a span of a few hours. How a great film can touch you deeply and resonate in a way that very few things do. Sure many are created specifically to pull at your emotional strings, but non the less when you find a film that is honest and open, seeking to be real, it really creates a impression that holds longevity. Now, the reason I state all this is because High Fidelity speaks about having love for something and putting it above other things that are important. Rob Gordon has such a deep appreciation for music, art, and his personal taste in these that he places it as the end all be all. If you have completely different taste than him, then you aren’t worthy of his time. In his eyes, if you have poor taste in music or films then it dictates who you are and what your like. A glaring line from the film is: ‘Its not what your like, but what you like’. By that definition if you are someone who finds Halle Berry or Jennifer Lopez’s acting pleasant or if you are a fan of Twilight or High School Musical, then to me you would be a person that would be excluded from my life. It seems comical to mention but its in a way what im like and its specifically how John Cusack’s character is like. So I can very much relate to how he elaborates and comments on his being this way. He goes through a process of discovering how immature selecting your friends exclusively by artistic taste is. I love every moment of this type of introspections because even as I type, its something that I very much deal with. I love my personal taste and I find it difficult to speak with those that don’t indulge in the same artistic content that I do. Also, I tend to place experiencing certain art before other things that could be seen as more important, more pressing, or things that need to be done due to responsibility. So I love High Fidelity for allowing me to see someone else who is going through this internal conflict and seeing him go a bit crazy over his over valuing artistic experiences.

Rob: ‘What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?’

The Dark Comedic Content

High Fidelity does a great job at creating a strong dramatic story that is consistently infused with some humorous dark comedic content. Its heightened reality gives room for sporadic zany content or almost parody like humor but keeps everything straight in line never sacrificing its dramatic story to be funny. With actors like John Cusack, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tim Robbins, and other high profile names giving spot-on comedic performances, the story always keeps its continuity while delivering hilarious material. All the big names really are funny and never upstage the scenes their in or seem like meaningless cameos. Zeta-Jones specifically has a minimal role but shines in it and delivers just enough charismatic spark to be impressive, yet despite the splendid acting the scenes are sharp in its topic to never make her side role seems indulgent. It is small details like that which make High Fidelity a fun time but keeps it also a serious dramatic experience.

The Acting
The acting is spot on in High Fidelity. Literally every main performance standout as what it needs to be. Despite many big names the performances are what they need to be, no more no less.
Tim Robbins and Catherine Zeta-Jones and to a certain extent Jack Black all had smaller roles but shined in them. Robbins was impressive and repulsive in his role of Ian. His character was meant to be despised and heightened reality type of humorous and he excelled at it. He created a real dislikable character who is eccentric but finds a way to not take it over the top while still being true to the character. Zeta-Jones also gives a performance that is energetic and charismatic but also finds a way to make the character real enough to where her at the time big name presence wasn’t a deterrent to the story. She plays one of Robs ex-girlfriends and does it with vitality and volatile energy. Jack Black while now a big name, at the time of the films release, was a relative new comer to the acting scene. It was infact small roles like the one in this film as a zany or somewhat vulgarly wacky record store clerk, that got the attention of many people. His performance is hilariously smarmy and engagingly energetic. Black was perfect as one of the clerks along with Todd Louiso, bringing much of the funny that was found in the source material, Nick Horby’s novel.
Iben Hjejle played Laura the breaker upper in the film. She leaves John Cusack’s character Robb and is the main influence for everything that occurs through the film. Despite her having a recurring role, rather than a continual one, her general disposition and persona was very impressive. She gave a believable performance and managed to motivate us into liking/disliking her at all the proper times. Her portrayal, her demeanor was spot on to a person that is acting the way a breaker upper generally does. She was memorable and impressive in her performance.
Now I left the main character for last because I feel the need to rave and rant about it. John Cusack was absolutely outstanding as Rob Gordon in High Fidelity. He brought the character to life, was the embodiment of the persona found in Nick Hornby’s novel. He was a visual personification of what I found the character to be as I originally read the book. John Cusack didn’t just play Rob he became Rob. Its not just his general disposition or the fact that Cusack seems like the type of guy that would be a slacker or a artistic faux connoisseur, it was every movement, the elitist tone of voice, the mannerisms. Every movement was the character and every rant was as if lifted from the novel itself. I was overjoyed the first time I saw the film because of how identical the characters were and how close the film was sticking to the original, great interpretation of the character. Cusack was the needed backbone to the film giving it a fantastic performance that allowed everything else in it to work. He was the acting element that made the movie pop with a feeling of meaningfulness. Its really amazing how perfect his interpretation of the novels character turned out to be.

High Fidelity
I love the film. It really does a good job at giving a peek at a mans inner inspection of his psyche. One mans consideration of the details of his life and his realization of having to move on form certain things and how we all reach the eventual point of having to grow up.

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