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Nick Hornby

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High Fidelity On the surface, High Fidelity is a story about breaking up and getting back together again. Only, thanks to director Stephen Frears' narrative technique, we don't realize this until the credits start to roll. He plunges into the life of Rob Gordon, played by John Cusack, on the night his girlfriend, Laura, leaves him. Rob's subsequent depression and self-analysis is the focus of the film; getting the girl back becomes secondary. Rob's frustration from his break up with Laura reminds him of all of his other failed relationships, specifically, his "Top Five All Time Break Ups List". His recounts of each girl are interspersed throughout the first half of the film. We only learn about Laura as we learn about Rob's past. Consequently, the main part of the narrative is either flashbacks or direct commentary by Rob to the audience. This might seem to be a weakness, but it is in fact a vehicle for Frear to move the present plot forward. It is only through understanding Rob's past, that we can understand his current angst. In addition, the slow revelation of the causes for his and Laura's break up reinforces Rob's own mental journey. We learn things as Rob himself is ready to deal with them. For example, it is only when Liz, a mutual friend, marches into Rob's record store and yells profanity at him, that Rob begins to think of what Laura probably told Liz. He finally lets the audience in on some of the things he did to cause the break up. Yet Rob still hasn't fully grasped what happened between him and Laura. It is a great strength, and in fact the very nature of the film, that we are limited to Rob's mental struggle. All of the information is slowly laid out, to him, and to us. In his struggle to understand his current break up, Rob becomes obsessed with his past relationships, and decides to go out with them all again and ask them what went wrong. His discoveries give him a whole new perspective. Basically, he realizes that although he was dumped, he is now glad now that each of them ended. For example, he discovers that Charlie, who he has always imagined as the perfect woman, is in his own words "awful". Not only that, he finds that she broke up with him for purely superficial reasons. In another case, he is appalled by the neediness of his ex-girlfriend and is grateful that "she dumped me, and not the other way around". He also comments that he could have had sex with her, but that he "wouldn't be sleeping with a person". After these kind of enlightenments, Rob also has a whole new appreciation for Laura. Once again, the audience's perspective is linked with Rob's personal journey. The perspective of the film is further reinforced by the way in which Rob speaks directly into the camera. It gives the film a quickly paced, informal structure. Yet Frear doesn't trap the audience in Rob's perspective alone. Rather, it



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