Thursday, August 26, 2010

What High Fidelity isn't

A friend recently recommended I watch High Fidelity, with John Cusack.  After my normal faffing around period of a couple of months, I finally got around to putting the disc in my DVD drive while I attempted to wrangle the Dragon Age toolset.  It may have been my monumental frustration at the fact there's no way to preview a map before you spend time loading it, or the fact that I was working while my boyfriend was playing Valkyria Chronicles, but High Fidelity just seemed to be about... well, not fidelity.

I know it's a pun.  Har de har har. He owns a record store, where everyone who works there is a snob, including Jack Black.  Okay.  His girlfriend leaves him, and he can't stand to let her go, so he keeps chasing her, even though he apparently cheated on her while she was pregnant - his defence is that 'didn't know', but he doesn't make an excuse for cheating on her in the first place.  He goes through his life, not knowing what he wants to do, and offending people.  Okay then.

I understand the film is about a journey of the self, and how he goes from being a selfish bastard to being someone possibly worth redeeming.  My problem is that we don't get to see the whole journey, much as 8 Mile stops before Eminem becomes famous, or Mongol is all about how Ghenghis Khan became the scourge of the north-east.  It leaves the viewer feeling hard-done by, in the sense that there's no closure.  Now, I'm normally the last person who cares about such things - I think the ending to Inception was wonderful - but I do like to feel like I haven't wasted my time in watching a movie.  High Fidelity did not offer this.

I get the feeling I'm not the target audience, though.  While his speech toward the end about wanting it all to stop, to stop worrying about relationships and settle down and think about something else instead, strikes a chord with me, after I spent the rest of the time watching him be a jerk, it didn't feel like enough of a payoff.  He doesn't stay with Laura because he loves her, though one of the other characters hints at it, he stays with her because he's tired of trying.  Wow.

It's at this point that I feel like I must have missed something.  Surely the movie couldn't be about settling with what you've got?  There's an underlying message, that you have to settle down sometime, and settling into a relationship that's 'good' is more realistic than searching for one that's 'spectacular', but I'm still somewhat amazed he got AND kept a girlfriend in the first place, let alone convinced her to give him a second chance.

It reminded me of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang meets The Wonder Years, where you have the moments of hatred-laced pity, combined with the sudden awesomeness of breaking the fourth wall.  Unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr. still gets my vote for universe president, if only because he's also Ironman and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a modern-day film noir parody with a gay Val Kilmer in it.  And, as a point of interest, the first ten minutes of Kiss Kiss are absolutely not PC enough to show in class as an example of an excellent voiceover.  So I hear.  Just a heads up.

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