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High Fidelity

December 18, 2013

High Fidelity (2000)
Director: Stephen Frears
Actors: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black

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Synopsis: Rob Gordon (John Cusack), a record-store owner and self-confessed pop culture ‘anorak’, recounts the five most painful break-ups of his life as his latest girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), prepares to move out.

Review: I know we’re invited to take somewhat of an objective perspective from the persuasive, authorial ‘world-view’ of High Fidelity‘s first-person narrator Rob Gordon, but ultimately I think the film is trying to “have its cake and eat it” with any true probing of his unreliability. It’s in no doubt that we’re supposed to find charming and valorise his man-childness and emotional vulnerability, as he has the conventional Hollywood ‘three-act’ treatment where he learns his lessons through the narrative and ‘gets the girl’ by the end of it. For this reason alone, I’m more than a little agnostic about High Fidelity, and its supposed realism in portraying the neuroses in modern relationships. If anything, it’s almost like a male version of “Bridget Jones” – with the lead reduced to a nauseating cypher who espouses the sort of relationship jargon you only read in those bourgeois Sunday lifestyle papers or mens and ladies’ mags.

The film’s kinetic, zany spirit does have some benefits away from its supposed ‘truisms’ about relationships. Any film that tries to conquer ‘breaking the forth wall’ deserves credit, and some of Jack Black’s improvisational skills, plus the ultimately pointless, but quite anarchic sequence where Frears plays endless possibilities of how Rob and his pals would like to beat up Tim Robbins’ sleazy Ian, are amusing. (December 2013)

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