What came first, the misery or the music?
Yo, this be Reuben. Ol’ Milo boi recommended I’d give this film a go so vigorously he in fact lent his DVD to me. I went and gave it a watch the other day, and I can safely say it was not 2 hours wasted. In fact, while not being a masterpiece or anything along those lines, it was a great 2 hours and the film left a pretty big impression on me.
Fronted by John Crusack’s lead performance as record store owner Rob, viewers are taken on a journey through his past break-ups as his latest break-up with his longtime girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle) has a big effect on him and he works out whether or not it’s in his ‘top five most memorable break-ups’ or not as he goes on a li’l soul-searching quest. As a premise, you may not think that much eventful actually happens in this one, and certainly, it’s not an explosive or hugely adventurous one, and not that much does really happen, but its a thoughtful, exceptionally well-paced and enjoyable film nonetheless.
Now, I like films that have a relatively slow pace, and ones that are funny, but not in your face and laugh out loud. And ones that give you food for thought, but not so much you’ll it’ll drive your brain into a circus of thought. Something insightful, but not trying to be too clever. That’s exactly what High Fidelity is. The comedy writing at its heart is subtle enough that it’s not overt in any way, but in places funny enough to really make you laugh out loud — and that’s nice, comforting, in a way. And hidden in this script of amusing music reference quips and quirky characters is an insightful look into the nature of relationships, love, commitment, and loss – as this guy gets into, it’s interesting in a lot of ways. And, you know, it left a big impression on me and I thought it was really clever; but it wasn’t trying too hard. It’s subtle, see? But in its breaking of the fourth wall and the sheer presence of a young, greasy Jack Black, it does have quite the aspect of silliness to it, and that can bring the fun to the fore when it needs to.
With its pacing, the film’s just about perfect. Say, The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin. It’s 6 minutes. Quite long, but not too long. It’s got a nice mid-pace, which every now and then slips into sections of faster pace and longer sections of slower pace, and it all flows together in that rocky river of fuzzy goodness, which entertains and lulls at the same time. High Fidelity, as a movie, has essentially the same effect, as its plot and Rob’s changeable character comfortably take you through the motions, and its really engaging while at the same time being quite relaxing. It’s also cool, but not quite so cool as The Lemon Song, let’s not get crazy.
I think something else the director (ol’ Stephen Frears) did really well with this film was the fact he made it seem almost slightly disconnected in its atmosphere, if you get what I mean. By placing Rob at the forefront of everything, who is pretty self-centered, everything else seems almost insignificant and all that matters is his quest to find out about why girls keep on leaving him. Oddly enough, it really works as it lets you focus on the main driving force of the plot and lets you just enjoy Jack Black n’ that’s doings on the side. And John Crusack, who’s at the center of it all, does put out a really good performance.
Nonetheless, if there’s one thing about High Fidelity that disappointed me a bit, it’s its soundtrack. I mean, sure, it’s got some great tunes in there littered around, but for a film centered around music it doesn’t use music as well as it could have or maybe should have. It could have given the film that little something extra had the sound editing had a little more focus. And while the acting is strong for the most part, Iben Hjejle’s performance as Rob’s latest break-up initiator Laura is a little flat and at points Jack Black as greasy ol’ Barry does feel a bit out-of-place as there are a couple of times when he’s just kinda being a bit obnoxious and not funny. Moreover, although I do love the atmosphere of the whole thang, I was left a tiiiiiny bit disappointed by the low frequency of laugh out loud moments and would have liked to be made to laugh a little more, because I do like a good laugh.
Still, High Fidelity is a great watch. Don’t let those gripes put you off, they’re only small ones. It comes recommended to just about anyone, really. It seems like an accessible one. As relatively slow-paced chill films go, it’s not exactly The Big Lebowski, but I’d say better than Dazed and Confused.
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