Whatever happened to John Cusack? The man was on top of the world at one point, with great pieces of film such as Being John Malkovich and a few collaborations with Woody Allen. Cusack entered the 21st Century with light hearted romantic comedies based off of bestselling books. High Fidelity provides us with a look into his proficiency as a leading man once more, but without the intrigue of his early works or the grizzled presence of his later pieces.
Cusack stars as Rob Gordon, a depressive record store owner that cares for music more than his relationships. Going through a breakup with Laura (Iben Hjelje), Gordon begins to reminisce about his past relationships and his future commitment issues. Directed by Stephen Frears (the man that brought us the incredible Philomena), High Fidelity is very much a study of how relationships can impact a state of being and the business dealings that surround it.
As ever, a prominent cast wraps up a solid enough script. Cusack is enjoyable in a leading role that doesn’t really bring anything unique to the table. It’s your expected rom-com formula. Guy loses, girl, wins girl back by the end of the film. More or less your standard affair of self-realisation and understanding the loss and gain of love. All of that soppy sort of stuff isn’t well hidden throughout High Fidelity’s incredibly bloated running time.
Maybe the film wouldn’t feel so long if Jack Black stopped appearing for miserable excuses of comedy, peppered through the film in the worst way imaginable. Black is a great voice actor, but seeing him on screen is a difficult affair at all times. His work is ridiculously unengaging, especially here in High Fidelity. Adding nothing to the movie, alongside Todd Louiso, the two play well enough together, but not well enough to make it an enjoyable performance for either of them.
Maybe it’s Frears’ inconsistently boring direction that litters the film. His adaptation of a novel I’ve not heard of and have no intention of reading is well rounded enough to provide fans of Nick Hornby’s work the thrills and spills expected; but for outsiders to his work there isn’t much hidden away that would elicit watching a very predictable and tiresome romantic comedy. If it weren’t for the presence of John Cusack, this one would’ve been a complete dud.