High Fidelity: Book vs Film review

I've been discovering Nick Hornby books gradually over the last few years, and I've finally got around to reading High Fidelity, his first novel (if you don't count Fever Pitch, which is autobiographical and mostly just accounts of all the football matches he's ever been to). The film adaptation is a bit of a cult classic too, so I thought it was about time I added it to my watch list.

High Fidelity is the story of Rob, a thirty-something, pop-music obsessed man, who owns his own record shop and can't hang on to a relationship for more than a few years. In the book he lives in London, but the film transposes it to Chicago. Risky move, but to be honest, it made no difference. The film was a breakout role for Jack Black (which is reason enough to forgive the change of setting) as one of Rob's sort-of-friends/colleagues in the shop, and starred John Cusack as the unlikely (and often un-likeable) protagonist. He was also one of the screenwriters.

Both in the book and the film, the scenes in the record shop were my favourite and I loved the dynamic between Rob, Barry and Dick. I liked all the lists (top 5 all time singles, films, dream jobs etc.) and the almost Black Books vibe in the shop (look it up if you've never watched it.) I love the way Nick Hornby writes: funny and honest, and allowing you what feels like a realistic glimpse into the male psyche. And I liked how the film used the device of having Rob talk to camera - sounds weird, but so much of the book is internal you needed that to get into the character's head. Plus it's a bit quirky and different.

High Fidelity is definitely more of a boys book (and film) in my opinion - although I know there's not really such thing and personally I enjoyed both book and film a lot. But it's more about the male experience I guess, and the female characters aren't entirely well rounded (Nick Hornby admits that himself about the book - but he writes great female roles nowadays: An Education, Brooklyn and I loved  Funny Girl.) It's interesting from a girl's perspective though, and I like that Rob's behaviour isn't excused - the book/film doesn't try to pretend he's not a jerk. And the character doesn't pretend it either - not to the reader/audience anyway.

The film was actually a very faithful adaptation (I wish they'd included the bit where the woman tries to sell Rob her cheating husband's record collection, but I see why they cut it) and very well cast. You need a really like-able actor to sell a character like Rob, and John Cusack did a great job. I liked Joan Cusack (his real life sister) as Liz too, and Barry and Dick were perfect. I also liked the actresses that played Laura and Marie, I wonder why they've not been in much else? Also, look out for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tim Robbins, making the most of their bit parts.

Overall, High Fidelity is worth a watch and a read. I got through the book quick and the film was great too. I still like About a Boy better though.


Popular Posts