Saturday, May 10, 2014

Movie #252: High Fidelity

High Fidelity is comedy starring John Cusack, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Iben Hjejle, and Todd Louiso. It's one of Michelle's favorite movies; she refers to it as her Empire Records.

Rob Gordon (Cusack), as the movie opens, has just split with his longtime girlfriend, Laura (Hjejle). He think informs us (directly talking to the camera) of his all-time five worst breakups, and says that Laura doesn't even make the cut. He is, of course, lying. He's devastated.

Rob owns a record store, and wrangles two snobbish, misfit employees, the meek, borderline Aspie Dick (Louiso) and brash, loud, asshole Barry (Black). The three of them fetishize vinyl and music in general, and act like the worst comic-book store employees you've ever seen, only about records.

Rob takes us through his history in romance, how he met his four other momentous breakups (stretching as far back as 7th grade), and we see how he operates - he falls in love, moves in, but then relationships get hard (like they do) and he goes looking for the dopamine hit. In the midst of all this, he copes with the fact that Laura has a new beau (Robbins) and he's insanely jealous, and he tracks down his exes and tries to find out why they rejected him.

And it turns out - there's not a simple answer. He's really looking for a way for it all not to be his fault, but when he talks to a girl whom he rejected in high school because she wouldn't sleep with him, and who was then date-raped by her next boyfriend because she just didn't have the energy to keep saying no, Rob (watching her storm out from the very pleasant date they were having) is cheered - if he rejected her, then this is no reflection on his viability as a partner.

Rob, you see, is a complete douchebag.

High Fidelity has the potential to be a redemption story, and it kinda is. Rob, by the end of the movie, realizes how selfish and dickish he is, and he's making an active attempt to break out of that cycle, trust the people around him, engage the world a little, and be a better person. He's not there yet, bu that's actually nice, because that's a process, and it would really feel too pat and out of sync with the rest of the movie if he suddenly woke up and was a good person. But he can see "good" from where he is, he's back with Laura (he proposes, she says no, but thanks him for asking), and things seem on an upward slope.

I like this movie. It's funny, and Cusack is always fun to watch. The interplay between him and his employees is my favorite part, because it reminds me so much of chats I used to have with gamer friends ("used to have," yeah). But for me the most poignant part is that when I saw this movie in 2000, in theaters (when I was 26), I really identified with Rob. Now, 14 years later, I think he's a total ass, and I'm happy when he starts to grow up. I think that speaks well of me. :)

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: High School High, for some fuckin' reason