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High Fidelity

High Fidelity (Stephen Frears - 2000)

It's an odd feeling to watch a movie that you've fallen out of love with. High Fidelity used to be one of my two or three favorite films. Whatever mood I was in, this always seemed to work for me. But lately, I find that I've been appreciating it less and less. I don't really know why, there's still a whole heckuva lot to like here. It just doesn't seem to click in the same way it used to for me.

High Fidelity is a disjointed, aimless kind of film but that's not really a problem. It's definitely meant to be a movie driven more by its characters than its narrative. John Cusack is in his element as neurotic record shop owner and all-around schmuck Rob Gordon. Rob has hit a crossroads in his life. His store (Championship Vinyl) is struggling, his elitist music-snob employees (a timid Todd Louiso and a bombastic Jack Black) annoy the hell out of him and his love life is flailing. He's tired of failed relationships and desperately wants to make things work with his latest girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle). But before he can have a life with Laura, he has to sort himself out. He decides to embark on the ultimately fruitless task of reuniting with all the former flames on his "Top 5 Break-Ups" list (Rob's a big fan of making "Top Five" lists) in order to get a handle on where he's going and how he's gotten where he's at now.

High Fidelity is a good movie. It's a funny movie. It's got a pretty consistent wry wit to it and everything in the film feels very natural. I really like what it's got to say on relationships and love in general. For a movie that's so pragmatic and unidealistic about love, it sure does glorify the satisfaction of relationships and romance. Very realistic, very true to life. And the performances are uniformly excellent. Cusack is great as always, even while playing slightly against type as the shallow, self-centered Gordon. Hjejle is fine as the understandably fed-up Laura and Tim Robbins has a funny little turn as the slimy hipster trying to move in on her. The real standouts, though, are Jack Black's belligerent jerk Barry and Todd Louiso's painfully shy, yet knowledgable Dick. Their scenes in the record store riffing about music and all other aspects of pop culture are the highlights of the film.

But in the end, I guess High Fidelity is just a little too thin. It tends to drag in spots and I get the feeling it thinks it's more perceptive than it really is. It's still a nice little film and if you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth checking out. But unfortunately it just doesn't hold up to subsequent viewings like you would hope. And that's a real bummer, because I sure used to love this movie.

Swedish Rating: