I first saw High Fidelity when it came out on DVD around the year 2000. I enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t particularly resonate with me. It was just a good movie that I honestly forgot about after I watched it.
A few years later, I recalled a few scenes from High Fidelity and I watched it again and I appreciated it a lot more the second time around. I don’t know if I was just in a funk the first time or what, but I found the movie to be brilliantly written and very well portrayed. John Cusack really drives the film as the sniveling man child and it’s a wonderful look at relationship dynamics through a protagonist who is a jerk.
Over the years, I’ve revisited High Fidelity half a dozen times and have enjoyed it with every viewing. Last year, I decided to read the book finally after watching Juliet Naked and realizing that I enjoy Nick Hornby’s storytelling more than I realized. I struggled to make it all the way through the book, only because I was distracted by a few obligations and other books I was reading, but there was no doubt that the movie High Fidelity and the book carried the same tone and the same story, despite being set in different countries.
When a High Fidelity TV show was announced I was enthusiastic about it. I saw it converting well into a longer form of storytelling and to be honest, the movie could use some updating. Then they announced Zoe Kravitz and my enthusiasm cooled. Then the teaser came out, then the trailer, and as the TV show got closer and closer, I became less excited to the point of not wanting to watch it.
I’m not a fan of gender flipping and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the character of Rob anymore. I also worried that the name High Fidelity would be used and very little of the actual story would remain.
When it dropped on Hulu on Valentine’s, I gave the first episode a shot and within the first few minutes I was really enjoying it. It was clear the show runners loved the movie/book and made sure this was a faithful interpretation that was simply updated for 2020. The same heart and soul of the original film was contained as were most of the same classic lines and conversations.
I’m not a fan of rebooting and changing things to cater to a more “woke” audience, but High Fidelity doesn’t feel like this at all. Sure, it focuses on relationships that aren’t simply a hetero, white male, but they do so in a way that feels natural and real for this current time in history. Nothing feels forced, which is what makes me hate “woke” movies so darn much. Nothing is preachy, nothing is flashy, and nothing has a social commentary. It’s simply a story about a person who is bad at relationships and tends to ruin everyone they’ve ever been in.
Zoe Kravitz is wonderful as Rob and David H Holmes (Simon) and Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Cherise) still every scene they are in as Rob’s trusty employees. Jake Lacy is charming as Clyde and overall the cast feels real, authentic, and flawed but likeable.
High Fidelity started off strong, but ended with a whimper. I really enjoyed how they changed the ending (to a more believable and earned ending) but overall the story just ran too long for a series. I would never watch High Fidelity again, and I don’t regret watching it this time around, but when I first started it I really thought this was going to go into my own Top Five Remakes/Reimagining list, but I think it’s probably somewhere close to my Top Twenty.