High Fidelity

High Fidelity (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers, Interviews

The odd thing about doing (non-direct to video) home video reviews is that I’m analyzing a movie that has already been seen and critiqued by others. Because of this, it can be difficult to not be influenced by these other views. All that I’ve heard about ’High Fidelity’ is that it’s a disappointing adaptation of the 1995 source novel. Well, as usual, I’m forming my own opinion — ’High Fidelity’ is a great movie! I haven’t read the novel, so that’s not affecting my view of the film. I found ’High Fidelity’ to be one of the most honest and moving romantic comedies that I’ve seen in years. John Cusack stars as Rob Gordon, a man who loves women and his record store, but hasn’t had much success with either. Rob’s girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle) has just left him and this causes him to reflect on his life and relationships – most of which is done with Cusack talking directly into the camera. While dealing with this, Rob must also contend with the troubles at his record store, ’Championship Vinyl’. His employees, Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso) are both music fanatics who’d rather debate than work.

’High Fidelity’ manages to be funny, honest, moving, and hip without being annoying or overly cynical. Cusack is charming and brilliant, as usual, but Jack Black stills the show as the unpredictable Barry. (Although, I found Dick to be much more amusing.) Also, watch for several fun cameos by some unexpected performers. ’High Fidelity’ offers a refreshing look at love and a honest portrayal of dedicated music fans. And let’s face it, any movie in which the characters praise ’Evil Dead II’ and diss ’The Big Chill’ is OK in my book.

The ’High Fidelity’ DVD brings us another one of Buena Vista’s quality transfers. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. The image is very crisp and clear, displaying no noise or grain. Director Stephen Frears has shot the film using a very realistic color palette, so the picture gives us very natural skin-tones and nighttime scenes, with no bleeding of the colors. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is very appropriate for the film. While the audio doesn’t offer a very wide sound field, the dialogue is always clear and audible and the ever-present music in the film comes across as crystal clear.

The DVD offers only three bonus features. First, we have nine deleted scenes, most of which are quite enjoyable and two of which offer more surprise cameos. Surprisingly, these deleted scenes have been cleaned up and look just as nice as the rest of the movie. Instead of offering the standard ’making-of’ featurette, the ’High Fidelity’ DVD offers a set of interviews with John Cusack and director Stephen Frears. Each tackles five different topics, ranging from the script to the cast. And finally, there is the theatrical trailer for the film, which doesn’t do justice to the completed product. ’High Fidelity’ earns my highest praise — now go and get a copy for yourself!