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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 74:28)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, Hebrew, Greek, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • 9 Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Interviews

High Fidelity

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 109 mins . M15+ . PAL


“What came first, the music or the misery?"

Adapted from Nick Hornby's 1995 novel, High Fidelity is a romantic comedy about failed relationships and the obsessive elitism of pop-culture fanatics. The plot revolves around a central narative delivered by the main character Rob Gordon (John Cusack). Speaking directly to camera, Rob muses on his life, his music, and the bittersweet history of his romantic failures. Rob is a typical record fanatic - an underachieving 20-30 something male, selfish and singularly focussed. His apartment is lined with shelf-upon shelf of coveted vinyl records. A part-time dance-club DJ, Rob runs a record store 'Championship Vinyl' with his two fanatical clerks Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso). They while away their days arguing about pop trivia, and comparing top-5 lists.

The store survives from the handful of customers that are not driven away by their elitist attitudes – mostly sad male Smiths fans searching for deleted singles. After his latest girlfriend Laura leaves him for a Steven Seagal pony-tailed Supertramp fan, Rob is driven to reflect on his top-5 breakups of all time. He is obsessed with finding the reason for the failure of his latest relationship - one in a long line of similar failures. In fact, the answer is simple. Laura, a lawyer, wants to get on with her life while Rob is living in the past – repeating like a scratched record.

The story is about reflection, self-discovery and realisation about the nature of love. It’s also about, and in a way for, those obsessed fanatics of pop culture - records, comics, books, movies. Many may not see themselves, but they will recognise people they know. We have all walked into the odd record store, book store, restaurant, hip clothing shop and got the distinct impression we weren't really worthy.

As the two record store clerks, Jack Black and Todd Louiso are fabulously funny, easily stealing all the scenes they are in. If you have ever experienced the record-store culture (or any other 'scene' based on popular art) you will realise just how true-to-life these over analysing pop elitists are - the story could easily have focussed on comic books, or any other pop-culture movement. Norwegian born Iben Hjejle also delivers a fine performance as Laura, and Cusack is in typically fine form.

High Fidelity is one of a rare-breed - a beautifully constructed romantic-comedy. The characters are believable and very well developed (well, as developed as one-dimensional music fans can be!). It is populated with real people living real lives. The performances are strong and delivered perfectly by a strong cast. The comedy is sharp, and never forced.


In terms of video Warner present an anamorphic transfer of High Fidelity at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Beautifully sharp and clear, the transfer displays great black level and the frequent dark scenes (many taking place in Rob's apartment or on dark city streets) display great shadow detail. In general the colours are muted - Rob and his pals wear a lot of black, and the record store and Rob’s apartment (where much of the plot takes place) are pretty drab. Therefore, most of the film’s locations have a very 'grungy' feel and the transfer does not jump out at you and grab your attention - you would not immediately classify it as ‘reference quality’. Having said this, there really is little fault to find, with no MPEG or film-to-video artefacts to seen. One or two tiny film artefacts are present (if you really look for them) but they are never distracting. All up, an impressive job indeed.


There is one audio track on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1. At all times the dialogue is clear and distinct, with no audio sync problems. The surround channels were used frequently, yet subtly, providing a nice level of ambient sound. Especially effective were the many rainy scenes, and outdoor scenes were populated with an assortment of standard city sounds. The .1 channel was not used to any great extent in the movie except for the occasional thunderclap. For a movie based around pop music, and in keeping with recent Cusack releases (Grosse Point Blank immediately springs to mind), the movie features a great soundtrack of pop songs from the '70s, '80s and early '90s. The surrounds were utilised nicely to carry a portion of these tunes. All in all, this is a competent yet unremarkable audio track that is in keeping with the genre.


The disc is reasonably presented with functional, yet static, anamorphic menus. The extras included with this disc are a little disappointing. As a candidate for cult status (at least with my immediate friends and I), a commentary by director Frears and/or Cusack is sorely missed. What we do get is a set of sound bites from these two outlining some of the issues that went into making the film. Not quite as good as a commentary would have been, these snippets of interviews are of reasonable length and are interspersed with clips from the film. In the absence of anything else, they provide some insight into the making of the film. Some deleted scenes are also included, but these provide no real interest. However, for those who have read the novel, they do indicate just how closely the filmmakers stuck to the book, with most of the scenes where the book and film diverge included here.

At least we should be thankful that we miss out on nothing included in the R1 release.


Let's not mince words - High Fidelity is a fantastic film; a romantic-comedy for the pop generation. It's one of my firm favourites and has been on high rotation ever since its release in region 4. The film is perfectly cast, the comedy is well paced, and the characters are well developed. Setting it apart from the normal romantic-comedy dross that we are served these days, the film is deeply layered and leaves you thinking. I have no hesitation in recommending this fantastic film to all. Watch and enjoy.

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      And I quote...
    "One of a rare breed - a beautifully constructed romantic-comedy for the pop culture generation."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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