Thursday, 8 July 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 295

446 - High Fidelity - 5 stars
My original plan for this film involved it being one of the last films watched before the top ten and spending a day trying to reorganise my DVD and BluRay collection autobiographically but fate stepped in.
For the last few years I have been involved in writing the Aberdeen Student Show (although not last year due to "creative differences" with the director) and this year I will be script editor again and have convinced the production team to do a High Fidelity style romantic comedy where someone revisits his ex-girlfriends in order to gain some wisdom about himself so that he might win back the love of his life.
And so with that plot in mind, it proved the perfect time to revisit the film of my all-time favourite book.
Now more often than not film adaptations are might with one big criticism, that "it wasn't as good as the book".
In the case of High Fidelity however, I honestly believe that it is one of the greatest book to film adaptations of all time.
It might not be LOTR and be as close a scene for scene translation of the book, and there were criticisms for moving the setting of the film from London to Chicago but the film succeeds because it keeps the heart of the book.
Relationships (both ones that work and ones that don't) are universal and the screenwriters were right to focus on the characters and not worry about the setting.
The book unfolds from the viewpoint of Rob Gordon who analyses his past relationships when his current girlfriend breaks up with him.
In a risky move the screenwriters kept the narration by the main character, who often speaks directly to the audience. In the wrong hands it could have been a disaster but John Cusack pulls it off effortlessly, proving engaging to the audience despite the character's obvious flaws (selfish, naive, lack of desire, etc).
Rob Gordon is one of those characters that I can relate to. He runs a small independent music shop and I run a small independent cinema. He sits around making up Top 5 lists with his staff and customers, and so do I. He is not very good at relationships and neither am I. I've always claimed to be a "hopeless romantic" in the terms that I'm hopeless at romance. I would also probably have worries about dating someone who hated one of my most beloved movies/albums.
It is one of the most honest romantic comedies done from the man's point of view. Yes ladies we do act like this but you should love of us inspite of this not because of it!
The writing is excellent, accurate and worryingly familiar to anyone who has been in a relationship and Cusack has assembled a great supporting cast behind him to deliver the lines including his sister, Tim Robbins and Jack Black. Funny to think that when I first saw this film, I didn't know anything about Tenacious D and was genuinely surprised by how good Black's singing was on Let's Get It On at the end of the film.
It hits all the right notes, being romantic when it needs to be and having some truly funny scenes. Easily one of my Top 5 films about relationships:

1. High Fidelity
2. Swingers
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. (500) Days Of Summer
5. Annie Hall

Days remaining - 70 Films remaining - 70

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