Thursday, March 8, 2012

High Fidelity

High Fidelity
last seen @ Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn NY
3.6.12

The first time I heard about Nick Hornby was in a comic book. The protagonist was a book store clerk, and in one scene he's trying to impress a new co-worker, a young and attractive girl. She eventually mentions how much she liked High Fidelity (this was back when the book was still relatively recent). So when the film version came out a few years later, I remembered the name. As it happened, I was with a friend who wanted to see it, but at that particular moment I wanted to see something else. She talked me into seeing this, however, and in the end I didn't really object. Still, I never warmed up to the movie. I didn't hate it, but I never felt like I could relate to John Cusack's character, having never suffered a series of emotionally scarring yet hilarious breakups.


Time passed, however, and then one day I was in a bookstore and saw High Fidelity and I decided it was time to give it a second chance. So I bought it and read it. Hornby has a very lively writing style. He has a knack for digging into a person's emotional psyche and uncovering their fears and insecurities in an entertaining way, and weaving pop culture into the mix is certainly part of the secret. As a result, I felt like I could appreciate Cusack's character Rob a little better. Plus, it made me appreciate the movie better for seamlessly transposing the setting from London to Chicago. Eventually I went back to the movie and genuinely liked it.



As for Hornby, I quickly snatched up the rest of his books and I found I loved the rest of them as much, if not more. Romantic relationships are a common thread in his stories, although they aren't always the main focus; for instance, A Long Way Down is about a quartet of people looking for reasons to not commit suicide (not as depressing as it sounds). I find his stories comforting; to me they acknowledge the screwed-up craziness of life and relationships and everything else, yet enable you to laugh about them. even occupy a shared universe - supporting characters in one book often turn up as fringe characters in another. And as for the other films based on his books, I don't remember whether I saw About a Boy before or after reading the book - may have been before, but I'm not sure. I have yet to see Fever Pitch.



Getting back to Fidelity, though, as I watched it last night, I found that I could relate to Cusack's character Rob more than ever. I've written before about how much breaking up with a girl can hurt, as well as whether or not getting back together was a good idea, and sure enough, I realized that I have more in common with Rob than I thought. I guess all I needed to appreciate this movie was time and experience.


So I saw Fidelity at the Brooklyn Public Library, a beautiful, grand old building across the street from Prospect Park and within shouting distance of downtown Brooklyn. It's part of a series of films they're doing about movies based on books. There were a surprisingly large amount of old people in attendance; this doesn't seem like the kind of movie for the AARP crowd, but I guess they must've liked it. The hostess provided a briefing on the film beforehand which perhaps provided a little too much information (though it wasn't spoilery) - I mean, some things should be discovered for themselves. She did make mention of one thing that was news to me: apparently the woman who played Laura, Iben Hjejle, is a Danish actress whom director Stephen Frears discovered, and I could hear faint traces of her accent throughout the movie. There was supposed to be a discussion of the movie afterwards, but I didn't bother sticking around for that.



The library is located at Grand Army Plaza, a major traffic intersection surrounding a small green space with a huge arch at one end, similar to the one in Washington Square Park in Manhattan, but much more majestic. Not that I used to come to this part of Brooklyn often, but whenever I did, I always hated trying to cross it because of the wide traffic lanes. Recently, the GAP has undergone a major facelift that has not only made crossing it much easier, but it gave  pedestrians and bicyclists much more space to maneuver. The result is beautiful, and it makes GAP a much more pleasant place.

4 comments:

  1. There are some things I like about High Fidelity and the way it looks at relationships is intriguing, but overall I wasn't wowed by it. Maybe I just don't like films with too much foul language and this movie definitely has a ton of those.

    I did enjoy Iben Hjejle's performance and she was quite good in this Irish indie The Eclipse w/ Ciaran Hinds.

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  2. Just saw her IMDB page. Looks like this was her biggest (American) movie.

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  3. This sounds like a perfect day for me. I would love that experience of seeing a film in a cool old library. I really liked High Fidelity, but I've only seen it once.

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  4. It was in an auditorium in the basement of the library, to be precise. Nice seats with lots of legroom!

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