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What Critics Said About ‘High Fidelity’

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What Critics Said About ‘High Fidelity’

They Said What?! is a biweekly column through which we discover the highs and lows of movie criticism by means of historical past. How did critics really feel about it on the time, and can we see it in another way now? Chris Coffel explores.

On March 31, 2000, John Cusack broke the fourth wall as Rob Gordon, the music-obsessed narcissistic file retailer proprietor, incapable of sustaining a wholesome longterm relationship. Rob is, in fact, the lead character and narrator in Stephen Frears’ adaptation of Nick Hornby‘s 1995 novel, High Fidelity.

Two many years later, it’s as related as ever. In 2006, a musical based mostly on the e-book ran on Broadway for 13 exhibits. Since then, regional productions have sprung up in numerous cities throughout the US, with a pair popping up in Australia and London. Ten years in the past, Chicago journal ranked High Fidelity quantity one among their listing of the highest 40 motion pictures filmed within the Windy City. Now, the e-book has been tailored right into a TV collection on Hulu.

Does the movie’s lasting significance jive with what the critics needed to say 20 years in the past? Let’s dig in and discover out.

Adapting a beloved e-book is rarely a straightforward process, and it turns into all of the harder when vital adjustments happen. In the case of High Fidelity, this meant shifting the distinctly London story to Chicago and crafting a decidedly American romantic comedy. Desson Patrick Thomson, then referred to as Desson Howe, started his evaluate within the Washington Post brazenly stating that he anticipated to hate the movie, echoing the skepticism of many followers of the e-book. But it left him pleasantly shocked.

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“High Fidelity doesn’t really feel unhealthy for one second about not being British,” he wrote. “Frears’ adaptation, co-written by Cusack, is effortlessly and eccentrically American. And, so far as I’m involved, this film’s a assured pleasure for anybody who ever liked pop music, owned a file assortment or suffered in love. Does that go away anybody out? I don’t suppose so.”

Stephen Holden didn’t appear to thoughts the situation shift, writing in his New York Times evaluate, “Despite the change of venue, the film stays remarkably true to the novel’s spirit.” He continued: “Even extra sharply than the e-book, the film evokes the turmoil of city single life with a unusual combination of confessional poignancy and dry, self-deflating humor.”

Of course, you’ll be able to’t speak High Fidelity with out speaking concerning the music, and lots of critics made this a focus of their opinions. Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club praised the movie’s musical decisions saying that it “understands the psychological significance music performs in its protagonist’s life.” This is essential as a result of so usually movies that depend on pop music soundtracks fall into the entice of merely turning into a playlist of cliches.

High Fidelity correctly prevented such traps.

“The songs are so properly chosen — by no means the obvious decisions, however at all times attention-grabbing ones — that they generally catch you up quick,” Stephanie Zacharek wrote for Salon. She highlights this by applauding the way in which the movie transitions from Belle & Sebastian to Katrina and the Waves in a single early scene.

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High Fidelity depends on outstanding, scene-stealing characters that in every other film would really feel excessive. Here they strike the proper chord and are available throughout as real, one thing Roger Ebert made positive to notice. “In its unforced, whimsical, quirky, obsessive method,” he wrote, “High Fidelity is a comedy about actual individuals in actual lives.”

The movie’s stellar forged of nice actors giving terrific performances deserves quite a lot of credit score for serving to the movie really feel so grounded. By and huge, reviewers agreed. “Every single actor right here rises to the event,” Zacharek wrote whereas singling out Joan Cusack, Jack Black, Iban Hjejle, and Todd Louiso.

Similarly, Holden raved about your entire forged saying, “The film is sparked by greater than half a dozen incisive performances.” He known as Cusack “profitable,” praising the actor for the way in which he discovered a steadiness between interacting with different characters on display and speaking on to the digital camera.

Perhaps essentially the most intelligent evaluate got here from Variety‘s Joe Leydon, who determined to steer off together with his “prime 5 causes High Fidelity is a few sort of fantastic.” The listing started by calling Cusack “fearless and ferociously humorous” and concluded by dubbing the movie “the primary nice date film of 2000.”

“Two hours of narcissism are troublesome to take,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her LA Weekly evaluate, proving that not everybody was a fan. She continued by saying, “High Fidelity needs to be hip, but it surely’s comically sq.” and declaring it to be nothing greater than “Bridget Jones’s Diary for the opposite aspect.”

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Dargis did handle to provide the movie a little bit of a backhanded praise whereas dragging different rom-com regulars, writing that High Fidelity is “a greater romantic comedy than something Nora Ephron or Garry Marshall will ever slough off.”

Joining Dargis in her disdain was Slate critic David Edelstein, who felt the movie was lazy in its method of taking the story from the web page to the display. He wrote that the movie was by no means “absolutely dramatized” as a result of it lacked any actual narrative. “The story of a sourly self-absorbed jerk who can’t absolutely share himself with anybody,” Edelstein concluded, “turns into the story of a man who by no means stops yammering.”

Well, you’ll be able to’t impress everyone. But if I had been to make a listing of my prime 5 all-time nice John Cusack motion pictures, High Fidelity would undoubtedly make the lower.

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