Falling in love is the Holy Grail for most people. But falling out of love is a mystery of equal intensity. Probing the rawness of our internal wounds after a relationship has ended is not a comfortable experience. But it is a universal one that is cleverly explored in this romantic comedy.
Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is the thirtysomething owner of Championship Vinyl, a Chicago retro record store. He adores popular music and knows a lot about it. True to his addiction to making lists, Rob has compiled his own "Top Five Most Memorable Split-Ups." Through flashbacks, we meet some of those who have contributed to his heartbreak including the smart and sexy Charlie (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the sad and sorry Sarah (Lili Taylor).
High Fidelity is based on a best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, who relishes the ways in which popular music mirrors our obsessions with love and loss. Director Stephen Frears keeps the proceedings moving along briskly, successfully pulling off the device of having Rob speak directly to us about his romantic screw-ups. Equally engaging is the thematic sidebar of happenings at the store staffed by two oddball employees the mild-mannered and persnickety Dick (Todd Louiso) and the flamboyant and snobbish Barry (Jack Black), who has dreams of being a singer in a band. The nerds who frequent Championship Vinyl are record addicts who thrive on their knowledge of music esoterica. All of them share a Peter Pan yearning never to grow up and never to join the mall culture.
High Fidelity will connect with all those who have spent time trying to figure out what went wrong in their romantic relationships. Rob's breakup with Laura (Iben Hjejle), his live-in lover who is a lawyer, troubles him deeply. Yet the stories he tells himself about her miss the mark by a mile. In the end, Rob disconnects from the mystery of their breakup and starts listening to the music of his heart. And he begins to hear some new melodies.