Overlooked Film of the Week-#20
They may or may not surprise you readers out there, but when I was growing up, I was just as obsessed with music as I was with movies. I have a very bi-polar taste in music, and I think what I have in my Ipod would surprise many of you if you were to scroll through it. Meeting Rob Gordon, the main character of the great "High Fidelity," I was completely gut-punched by how well I connected to him. It was surreal looking at a movie character I had so much in common with, that I could relate to on nearly every level. Before the movie really began, I knew that "High Fidelity" would be a movie I would watch over and over again.
As the movie begins, the latest girl in Gordon's life, Laura (Iben Hjejle), is leaving him. He is so flabbergasted by her absence that he takes the time to create a list of the top five break-ups that really hurt, that really made him reflect on life. For the audience, we figure these are the five examples of what Gordon is chasing every time he gets into another relationship. The making of this list forces Gordon to go out and find each girl on the top five and try to find some reason to his failures in relationships. On this quirky, funny road we also encounter his music shop that he owns and his two work collegues, Dick and Barry (played by Todd Louiso and Jack Black)
What makes Gordon such a rich character is that, for me he's easily to relate to. He makes tons of top 5 lists, and for as long as I have loved movies, I am constantly making lists. Call it silly, call it nerdy, but its the best way to get a read on something sometimes. Today, I have a wonderful girlfriend who I love, care for and trust with every fabric of my being, however there was a time I was a hopeless romantic. I think we have hit that time in our lives at one point or another, and Gordon's journey re-meeting all of his exes is familiar in a weird way. Plus he's a big music and movie guy, so that helps for me too. The character is brought to great life by John Cusack, easily the highlight of his career.
But he's not the only superb performance in this movie. Jack Black nearly steals the show as Barry, and he displays some of his very best comic work. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lily Taylor are both fantastic as two of Gordon's former flames that he revisits on his quest to find out what is wrong with him. Tim Robbins is pettishly quirky as Ray, the guy Laura left Gordon for. He's got a charismatic smug about him and it is perfectly brought to life by Robbins. Joan Cusack also shows up as Laura's sister, and she makes her supporting role count. Hjejle was a real discovery as Laura, and its strange to me that I've barely seen her since "High Fidelity."
Great performances aside, "High Fidelity" features lots juicy dialogue you will want to memorize and quote. Since most of the film takes place in a record shop, there is plenty of good tunes to tap your foot to as this story plays out. Music from all genres and all years, and it all compliments the movie victoriously. However, what makes "High Fidelity" matter is that there is a very human story at the center of this funny comedy. Sometimes, comedy's are working overtime to make its audience laugh that they forget about the story they are telling. They forget that the movie actually involves people in some kind of plot, its all about the jokes at times. Not with "High Fidelity," there are several characters and situations which we as humans will be nodding our heads to. As if a film crew came together to tell a story about us as individuals.
"High Fidelity" is going to be movie that will stick with me forever, and if you let it, the movie will do the same for you.