All February I’m adding reviews of romance movies from my archive that haven’t been posted to the site. This one comes from December 18, 2008. Long live the Double Door.
There’s always been an inexplicable connection between music, love and the movies. Certain songs always seem to set the tone for various kinds of love and romance in film, whether the light-hearted or the dramatic. “High Fidelity” not only uses the power of that emotional mixture, but also focuses on it and attempts to understand it.
“High Fidelity” is the story of Rob (Cusack), a vinyl store owner, and his understanding of his most recent break up with Laura (Danish actress Iben Hjejle) through analyzing his “Top 5 worst break-ups.” Rob’s affinity for music and being a self-proclaimed “professional appreciator” of music clearly influences his understanding of love and his quest for some kind of greater fulfillment.
Written by a team of writers — including Cusack himself — and based on a novel by Nick Hornby, “High Fidelity” takes on a first-person narrative structure, with most of the story being Rob talking directly into the camera. Normally narration is voiced over or kept distant from the action of a film, but this choice for “High Fidelity” creates an intimate relationship between Rob and the audience. Part of this success is how natural Cusack takes to the part. You believe he’s treated you as a close friend the entire time — there’s no lack of sincerity whatsoever. In general, it’s a technique that works phenomenally for this movie because it’s all about trying to make sense of love and seeing how music influences that interpretation.
There are many people out there who strongly identify their emotions with music and those people will absolutely love this film. It is candid, witty, mature and it’s dead-on when it comes to identifying with music appreciators. Not a lot of films really connect to audiences on this level. There’s no glorifying of romance when all is said and done — it’s not overdone Hollywood style — it’s just honest and doesn’t claim to know any more about love than any of its viewers. An admirable and heart-warming depiction of how music and love simultaneously weave through our lives.
High Fidelity (2000)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by D.V. DeVincentes, Steve Pink, John Cusack and Scott Rosenberg, Nick Hornby (book)
Starring: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet, Joan Cusack