John Cusack, Jack Black, and Todd Louiso in High Fidelity ©Touchstone Pictures, Inc.
“Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” –John Cusack in “High Fidelity”
Rob Gordon (John Cusack) works at Championship Vinyl, a Chicago record store, along with fellow pop music snobs Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso). The three fanatics spend their time coming up with top-five lists, and occasionally sell a record or two. The film, which is adapted from the novel written by Nick Hornby, is endlessly compelling in its wit, honesty, and ’90s (though the film officially came out in 2000) charm. Having just rewatched it ourselves, we’ve decided to offer a top-five list of our very own: The All-Time Top Five Reasons to (Re)watch “High Fidelity.”
5. The Imperfect Protagonist
There is a striking level of honesty in Rob’s self-deflating account of his past relationships. Even in his own storytelling, he’s hardly infallible. He’s a bit of a jerk who’s entirely responsible for his own misery. And still, somehow, we’re on his side. He confides in us, we empathize, rationalize his mistakes, and even, I think, have a hand in his moving forward.
4. The Soundtrack
What would a movie about music be without a momentous soundtrack? The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, The Velvet Underground, and Stevie Wonder are just a few among seventy song cues. Aptly, the film, which is informed by music, inspired music of its own. Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor wrote Fidelity while she was watching the movie.
3. The Cast
“High Fidelity” offered Jack Black his breakout role, Bruce Springsteen makes a cameo appearance, Catherine Zeta-Jones has never looked better, and who doesn’t love it when Joan and John Cusack pair up? Oh, and Tim Robbins has a ponytail.
2. The Film’s Loyalty to the Book
Despite a few alterations (Rob Gordon was originally Rob Fleming and Championship Vinyl called London its home before it was transplanted to Chicago), the film doesn’t stray too far from the book. Even Nick Hornby noted, “I never expected it to be so faithful. At times it appears to be a film in which John Cusack reads my book.” Stephen Frears’ adaptation from page to screen is most flawless when Cusack narrates Hornby directly to the camera.
1. The Top 5 Lists
These lists serve as a jumping-off point for both plot and character. “Top 5 Most Memorable Break-Ups (in chronological order),” “Top 5 Songs to Play on a Monday Morning,” and “Top 5 Musical Crimes Perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the ’80s and ’90s” mark just a few of the many lists offered in the film. Nobody who saw and loved “High Fidelity” didn’t try their hand at a few top-five lists of their own.
Now that you’ve seen our own top-five list, watch “High Fidelity,” and tell us yours.
Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel was adapted in 2000 for the big-screen by Stephen Frears, John Cusack, D. V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, and Scott Rosenberg. “High Fidelity” stars John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack, and Tim Robbins.