The Top Five...
High Fidelity
Review by Ross Anthony

Better title: "The Top Five." Of course you'd ask ... "The top five what?" And that's just where the advertisers would love to have you. Well, the top five most humiliating break ups for John Cusack, as a matter of fact.

Cusack, mug to camera, provides self-depreciating commentary to his dumpy little life as a used High Fidelityrecord store owner/operator on the more urban streets of Chicago. Fun flashbacks provide entertaining history of the top four heartbreakers as Cusack tragically lives through break up number five in real time.

Cusack's two loser employees (Jack Black and Todd Louiso) are hilarious. "I can't fire these guys, I hired them for three days a week and they started showing up everyday ... that was three years ago." Louiso is especially lovable as the bald headed pathetically charming geek. Black is ever on the attack aggressively defending his musical edicts.

But it's Cusack's cynical rambling that gives "HI-FI" it's biting irony. Here are just a few juicy quotes. The ever so diplomatic... "You f***ing bitch, let's work it out." And then on the human attraction phenomena... "It's what you like, not what you are like." Then there's the crude, yet clever ... "My guts have sh** for brains." Lastly, the nagging film-opening question ... "Which came first the music or the misery?" (referring to the depression itself vs. the depressing songs meant to ease/enable). Cusack spends much of the film trying to understand why he's such an "F***ing a**hole."

A little slow getting going, but fills out nicely with rough-toothed dialogue. Eclectic music snobs are sure to have a good time.

Danish actress Iben Hjejle (who plays the lead female role) sums the film well, "It's the most direct script about men's struggles with relationships I've ever read. It really surprised me that it has this honesty and I think it's very unusual for an American film to deal with subjects like this."

  • High Fidelity. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Natasha Gregson Wagner.
  • Directed by Stephen Frears.
  • Written by D.V. Devincetis & Steve Pink & John Cusack and Scott Rosenberg based on the book by Nick Hornby.
  • Produced by Time Bevan, Rudd Simmons at Touchstone/Working Title/Dogstar/New Crime.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:08:55 PDT