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?
If it weren’t for the fact that this is the first line of the film, I’d almost feel bad about using it to open with. It’s such a good line, defining the film so perfectly; John Cusack‘s delivery is spot on and the rest is far from silence.
High Fidelity is a film about audiophiles and love, full of sound and fury, signifying everything, as the unappreciated scholars in question have decided, “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like.”
Of course, what you like is a reflection of what you are like. And that’s part of what makes High Fidelity so great, its examination of the true magnitude of one’s pop sensibilities is a revelation. Or maybe I’m just narcissistic enough to love a movie about geeks sitting around talking about what they love. Is that meta? I think it might be: geek talking about what he loves, which also happens to be a film about geeks talking about what they love. Sold.
John Cusack perfectly encapsulates Rob Gordon’s thirtysomething angst as he struggles with that fact that he doesn’t feel like a thirtysomething, “It would be nice to think that since I was 14, times have changed. Relationships have become more sophisticated. Females less cruel. Skins thicker. Instincts more developed. But there seems to be an element of that afternoon in everything that’s happened to me since. All my romantic stories are a scrambled version of that first one.”
High Fidelity is funny and poignant, simultaneously personal and universal. Underneath it all, it examines how we define who we are and how that can bring us together. Much like Almost Famous, it deals with the bonds created by art, but here the focus is more on the connection between those who appreciate the same thing.
With Stephen Frears directing an awesome cast–including John Cusack, Jack Black, Iben Hjejle, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Lili Taylor, Todd Louiso, and Lisa Bonet–plus an amazing soundtrack and a revealing look at the relationship between art and audience that is both heartfelt and hilarious. Not only is High Fidelity one of my favorite films of the last decade, it’s a part of who I am as a person.
Bonus: The Boss is in it!