High Fidelity
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

It's been a good year so far with several really good movies including The Wonder Boys and Erin Brockovich.  But this one is the best so far.  Even though my expectations were very high since I liked the trailer, it starred both Cusacks, and the reviews were good, I was not disappointed.  It is a tour de force by John Cusack who should get an Oscar nomination.  And Cusack's performance is supported by a great cast, great writing and great direction.  High Fidelity, from the book by Nick Hornby, is the story a man (Cusack) who runs a secondhand record store named Championship Vinyl, and is trying to figure out what went wrong with his life after his latest girlfriend (Iben Hjejle) leaves him.  He and his co-workers at the store (played brilliantly by Todd Louiso and Jack Black) spend all their time thinking up Top Five lists for music and for everything in their lives much as Robert Redford and his friends did in The Way We Were.  Cusack presents his Top Five most traumatic relationships which have scarred him forever as a series of flashbacks while the relationship with Hjejle plays out in the present.  Cusack combines the action of the film with soliloquys to the audience with great aplomb.  Part of the reason that Cusack maybe doesn't get the acclaim he deserves, is that he makes it seem so effortless on the screen.  This is the first American film for the Danish actress, Iben Hjejle. She was a surprise casting choice but a happy one.  She holds her own very well with Cusack without chewing the scenery.  The other members of the cast, particularly Joan Cusack in her usual role of the best friend,  and Tim Robbins at his goofy best as Hjejle's new boyfriend, are wonderful.  Lisa Bonet (Denise on The Cosby Show) and Sara Gilbert (Darlene on Roseanne) show up as romantic distractions for the boys at Championship Vinyl.  This was very weird after seeing Alicia Goranson in Boys Don't Cry last week.  Catherine Zeta-Jones and Bruce Springsteen appear in nice cameos.   The director is Stephen Frears, best known for My Beautiful Laundrette. He does an excellent job of weaving the past and present into a coherent whole. In addition to just being a great film, High Fidelity resonated very strongly with me emotionally.  Many of the thoughts and feelings expressed by Cusack seemed very true to me (Robin told me not to own up to this!).  Another reviewer noted that, in the screening he was at,  women were nudging their boyfriends and pointing out things that were similar problems in their own relationships.  I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. The only anxious moments I had were wondering about how it was going to end. They keep us wondering right up to the end.  As I said, it felt very true to life.