Thursday, March 8, 2012

High Fidelity

High Fidelity
last seen @ Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn NY

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.


  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.

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

  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.

  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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