DVD Review: High Fidelity [Blu-ray]
Release Date: August 7, 2012
· Stephen Frears
· John Cusack
· Jack Black
· Todd Louiso
· Iben Hjejle
· Tim Robbins
by Chris Delloiacono
Published: August 6, 2012
You never know what films will become classics. Back in 2000, I wasn’t expecting a little flick called “High Fidelity” to rate at the top of the heap. If you look back other memorable films released that year included “Traffic,” “Gladiator,” “Pitch Black,” “The Gift,” “Snatch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Wonder Boys,” and “Erin Brockovich.” Many of these flicks have held up quite well under multiple viewings. “High Fidelity” could be the best because it’s sentimental, but not sappy, funny as anything, and I can totally see myself lurking inside of several of the characters. It’s a quirky classic!
The setup is so simple. The film follows Rob Gordon (John Cusack) who is unlucky in love, often because of his own foibles, and seemingly ponders every failed moment of his existence. Rob owns a small record store in a not-too-lovely part of town. He has a penchant for making top-5 lists for anything: best songs in various categories, worst breakups, and on and on. Rob and his staff (Jack Black and Todd Louiso) are manic music lovers with a heightened importance of what they love and denigration of others. Their douche charm is so spot on it’s amazing. Oh, and Rob breaks the fourth wall all the time. That’s a storytelling device that’s not used very often, yet when it’s done right, with a charismatic leading man like Cusack,
it's utter perfection.
In the simplest sense the film’s about a girl, but more so it’s about a guy coming into his own. What I love is it’s not about a guy forced to change because the girl says so. In a sense
it's two people meant to be together that just have to figure out what’s holding them back. I love that the breakup happened before the movie begins, so it’s not a typical romantic comedy where you have to wait an hour for the split so they can get back together over the final act. This is a film that’s hard to pigeon hole thus its rare standing in my pantheon of films.
Stephen Frears’ direction is absolutely stellar. Not only does he pull off the breaking-the-fourth-wall by Cusack, but he lends ample time for a stellar supporting cast. John Cusack is joined by his sister Joan, Lisa Bonet, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lilli Taylor, Todd Louiso, Iben Hjejle, and even Bruce Springsteen. It’s a masterfully cast film with every performance a shining example of well-crafted characterizations. The actors simply have a chance to inhabit their roles and come off as real people rather than stereotypes.
Some movies appear on your radar for months or years before you experience them. You just know they are destined to be all time favorites. Often times those films you anticipate so much never live up to expectations. Films like “The Usual Suspects” and “High Fidelity” are somewhat recent classics that I simply wasn’t expecting much from when I saw them opening weekend. Anticipation is wonderful, but there’s something truly special when a classic unfolds and you didn’t even see it coming.
It’s not often a set of deleted scenes is actually worth watching but the ones on this disc are amazing. Unfortunately, all of the features are holdovers from the previous DVD release. They include discussions with John Cusack and Stephen Frears, the previously mentioned deleted scenes, and a trailer. The film looks and sounds excellent on Blu-ray, but you have to decide for yourself if a picture and sound upgrade is worth your money.
This isn’t one of those cookie cutter romantic comedies. Sure, Rob finds love and seeming happiness at the end but there isn’t any melodramatic drivel with an ending you can predict five minutes in. If you don’t already own “High Fidelity,” it’s quite simply a must own film!