HIGH FIDELITY (2000) 

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John Cusack
Iben Hjejle
Todd Louiso
Jack Black
Lisa Bonet
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Joan Cusack
Tim Robbins
Chris Rehmann
Lili Taylor

Stephen Frears




Time: 113 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Romantic Comedy

SYNOPSIS: A record store owner who refuses to take his future seriously gets dumped again, which forces him to face his past relationships in an effort to save his present one.

BOTTOM LINE: Being a big Cusack fan, as well as a fan of the novel, I wasn't a bit surprised by how much I liked this movie. No one plays the down-and-out loser, trying to find the right girl, better than the charming Mr. C. In this instance, he plays Rob, a record store owner searching to uncover the reasons why all of his relationships end, including his most recent with Laura (Hjejle). So, he reconnects with the Top 5 women who broke his heart in an attempt to find out what's so unlovable about him. What he discovers is that not all the problems in the past were his fault, but most of the ones between him and Laura were. He refuses to truly commit to her, until he realizes she might be gone for good. Rob's behavior is rarely exemplary, but we learn to love him as he learns to accept responsibility for both his past and his future happiness.

Not many actors could make such a schlub charming, but through voice-over and direct interaction with the camera, Cusack opens his heart and shows his humanity. That he does it in a way that's both witty and painful, only makes him more endearing. The rest of the cast fill in gaps with outrageously funny turns by Black and Louiso as Rob's geeky employees who always have something to say about his life, even though they are failing to live their own. Each of the ladies brings a wonderfully honest performances to the screen, warts and all, especially Hjejle, who makes the most of her Hollywood big screen debut as the woman he thinks he can't live without. She gives Laura just the right amount of hope and despair, as a woman who desperately wants Rob to be the one, but can't waste her life waiting for him to figure it out.

Since they work in a music store the soundtrack is also an integral part of the film and truly helps set just the right moods and puntuation to the various segments of Rob's trips down memory lane. Music is how he communicates to the world and it plays an important character here. Not many films are able to capture the essence and tone of their original origins, but Cusack and company turn this quirky novel into a romantic hit both sexes can enjoy. A rare look at romance from the male point of view that isn't raunchy or silly, but honest, sweet and funny.

"I can't fire them. I hired these guys for three days a week and they just started showing up every day. That was four years ago."

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