“What came first, the music or the misery?”
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing but I came pretty close to recreating the life of the main character in High Fidelity, Rob Gordon. In fact I feel like sometimes this blog is like a Rob Gordon narration from the movie. Unfortunately for you it’s written by me, not Nick Hornby or John Cusack, so probably not as good.
If the internet hadn’t come along and changed the way we consume music, there’s a good chance I would have spent my entire life working in a record shop. I spent a good chunk of it working in one as it is and only stopped because the world decided they didn’t want CDs and DVDs anymore. Shame on you world!
When I rewatched Almost Famous I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I did when I saw that movie for the first time. The opposite is true for High Fidelity. I don’t know how or why I related so much to it when I saw it for the first time in 2000 – I mean I know I felt connected to someone who was grumpy and loved music but I had no relationships to revisit, no exes to reconnect with and I hadn’t started working in the record shop at that point. I didn’t know it then but what I was watching was a vision of my own future. Music, failed relationships, tantrums, lengthy top 5 discussions, being able to organise my record collection Autobiographically… all of it.
Well the last part isn’t exactly true but I did try to make an Autobiographical playlist using Spotify where I would add one song every day. The song had to somehow trigger a memory of that day so that years later I could look at what song I added on January 16th for example and I would remember what was happening in my world on that day. It worked too – years later I can still remember a lot of what was happening and can remember very specific details about really random events because of the playlist.
What I have noticed over the past while is that I have an apparently insane skill for remembering where I was when a particular football match was on. I say ‘apparently’ because I thought everyone did this…maybe not with football matches…but I have been informed by my fiance that, yes, it is indeed an insane skill that no, not everyone has, especially not with football. Just the other night, among friends we were trying to remember what we did on the day of the Marriage referendum results. The only thing I was absolutely positive of is that my dad and me went to see Dundalk play St. Pats in Inchicore on the day of the election. I remember because we couldn’t park in our usual parking spot because there was a voting station across the street from us and it was very busy. Some people think that type of recall is odd… Daryl Horgan scored twice, Dundalk won 2-0…Just to give a full picture.
Of course it must be noted that the film is based on the book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. It is one of the only books I’ve ever read from cover to cover that wasn’t about sports (I did read Fever Pitch too so that balanced it out) and I loved it… I’m sure I’ll talk about him properly in another post. Oh but while we’re on the subject. Rob’s great ex, played by Catherine Zeta Jones? Her characters name? Charlie Nicholson…You know why that’s her name?? Nick Hornby’s love for ex-Arsenal player Charlie Nicholas… Hornby was sitting there thinking to himself “What will I call this character?”
So you know that line in the movie when Rob realises what he really thinks of Charlie? Every Saturday you can turn on Sky Sports and say it along with him… “Charlie is awful”
One of the things that makes this movie so appealing to me is his obsession with music. Again as with Almost Famous the soundtrack is fantastic. This was the first time I heard songs like “Most of the Time“ by Bob Dylan, “I Believe When I Fall in Love“ by Stevie Wonder and “Dry the Rain“ by The Beta Band. It was also the first time I thought Jack Black was funny…it wouldn’t be the last time…and the first time I heard him sing…again, it wouldn’t be the last time. Rob’s obsession with music matched my own. I had similar rules for making mix tapes for example. Pay attention, here he is listing off the some of the rules…
I remember the first time I saw this… I was nodding in approval. “Yes, that’s correct, that is how to make a good mix tape” I thought to myself and then showed these scenes to everyone that would watch them as proof that I wasn’t the only one who thought this much about the track layout on a mix tape. I still go through this whole rigmarole now when I’m making a Spotify playlist that only I’m going to listen to. So I’m only doing it to appease myself and my playlist OCD…I’m never going to change and I’m fine with it.
The aspect of the film that I didn’t understand at the time was what it was like to be in a relationship. I therefore had no idea what it was like to break up with someone or have someone break up with you. That shit is not fun! Breakups can turn sane people into raging vessels of insanity and can turn raging vessels of insanity up to 11. I’ve had good breakups and bad breakups. The good breakups aren’t good per say…they’re just not an earth-shattering disaster…unlike the bad breakups…in which I’ve either been a rage filled insanity vessel turned up to 11 or…just a piece of shit…depending on your point of view…so now when Rob is listing his top five break ups and details how each one went down I can tick off the things that have happened to me… The point is breakups are horrible and complicated.
Rob freely admits in the film that he’s an asshole. There’s examples of extremely terrible things that he’s done to prove as much. So why do I as an audience member feel like he’s the hero? Laura should have left him long before she did right? I mean…Right? I know she loves him but come on…I do wonder what the movie would be like told from her point of view…
She gets hit on by a DJ, the DJ offers to make her a tape, that’s obviously his move. She returns to the same place where the DJ hit on her the following week. Maybe she likes him, maybe she doesn’t, they go on a few dates…she gets in trouble with her landlord and has no choice but to move in with creepy DJ man who then stagnates her and wishes she would stay the same and never change. He resents her for changing and ignores the reality of having to grow up and be more like an adult. He has no money and no ambition and then he cheats on her while she’s pregnant. Even allowing for the fact that he didn’t know she was pregnant, he still cheated on her. She kinda gets involved with a person she knows is completely wrong for her but is the exact opposite of dead-end creepy DJ. She does the right thing and before things get out of hand she leaves Rob. He absolutely freaks out and starts hanging around outside her house calling her ten times a night, literally harassing her. Then her Dad dies and he makes a scene at the funeral, making it all about him. Maybe the only way for her to have a semi-functioning life is just to put up with creepy dead-end DJ with the stalker tendencies. Maybe as she says, after her father’s death she’s just too tired to fight with him any more…and he’s not the worst guy in the world…then he immediately starts messing around behind her back making tapes for some random girl…but at least there’s a happy ending, when he proposes to her just to make himself feel better, she has the courage to say no…
I wonder what a lot of movies would be like if they were told from the female perspective…