High Fidelity Blu-ray Review
John Cusack stars as Rob, a man-child making his way through life going from one failed relationship to another, each time obsessed with the woman that broke his heart. We pick up with Rob right in the middle of his current breakup with Laura (Iben Hjejle). He’s recounting his top five breakups, providing the segway into what I found to be the most enjoyable part of the film; his job as a record store owner. Rob owns a niche music store and employs two loveable losers in Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black, before he forgot how to be funny). Watching and listening to them run the record store is the highlight of the film, as they insult their customers and make top five lists to suit the current mood. And the music is really where HIGH FIDELITY succeeds, whether it be the wonderful soundtrack or the great conversations Rob, Dick and Barry have about music. I desperately wanted more top five lists and to see hijinks in the record store and less relationship drama with Rob.
But when it comes to the relationships, HIGH FIDELITY does succeed, at least when it comes to looking back on former lovers. This was most evident as he looked back on his relationship with Charlie (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who he originally looked back on as being beautiful, strong, intelligent and almost too good for him. But when he reconnects with her years later, he asks himself what he ever saw in her in the first place. There’s a scene where he’s sitting on the couch watching her and we hear him come to this realization through a voice over. That scene and the handling of the relationship was spot-on and truly captured the essence of reflecting on past relationships.
Unfortunately, there were some misses in the film as well, almost all of which came with Laura. I liked the obsession with her new boyfriend Ian (Tim Robbins), but I felt he overreacted to many of the situations that came up with her. I also thought she was way too understanding of Rob’s immaturity, making it hard for me to root for them to get back together.
That said, the film makes up for Rob’s immaturity by crafting such a great character arc for him. In the beginning, he’s a whiney, self-centered man-child that has no understanding of women and bounces from one unhealthy relationship to the next. But as he goes back and revisits some of these relationships, as well as goes through a new one, he grows a little bit each time. He starts to realize that it wasn’t the women that hurt him, but his pain was self-inflicted, usually caused by his own stupidity.
The first time I saw HIGH FIDELITY, I was drawn to the music references. Watching it again so many years later, I started to appreciate the relationship aspect of the film. There were some moments where Rob’s immaturity was exaggerated too far, but overall I liked what the film had to say about looking back and growing up. And it doesn’t hurt that the music and music references are fantastic.
Video: HIGH FIDELITY looked wonderful in this new HD transfer. I hadn’t seen it since it originally hit theaters and I don’t think it has ever looked this clear.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
Conversations with Writer/Producer John Cusack (10:59): An okay featurette that includes topics like music, the characters Barry and Dick and thoughts on the imperfect hero in the form of Rob.
Conversations with Director Stephen Frears (15:02): Broken down into segments like the above featurette and covers how the script transferred to the screen, casting and the music selected in the film.
Deleted Scenes (13:58): Nine deleted scenes that didn’t do much for me, but fans of the film will probably enjoy them.