Wednesday, September 24, 2008

low fidelity

This might get a little ranty, and also contains a few plot points that could be considered spoilers if you haven't seen or read this already. So remember High Fidelity, that John Cusack movie from about 2000? I watched it several times, maybe two or three, between when it came out and roughly 2004. I liked it: cute, funny, John Cusack, quirky little fake indie movie. (Is it indie? I don't know. I just feel like it must not have been if everybody I know seems to have seen it.) Last week, on the way to Denver, I read the original book by Nick Hornby (also wrote About a Boy) set in London instead of Chicago. And I liked it a lot, actually, and felt like it said a lot of really interesting things about masculinity. I felt like the narrator was constantly being vulnerable in this totally asshole-ish way, but also seemed to be saying some things that seemed true enough to look twice at about the way men and women relate, like maybe it was a very pop version of a much more serious issue. There were some scenes that were vastly different than what I remembered from the movie, so I decided to stage a re-watching to confirm.
And god, I'm bored out of my mind. I actually can't get through it. I skipped a bunch of scenes, and I'm not sure I can finish even though I only have about ten minutes left. What I can't figure out is this: is it boring because I just read the book, or was it always boring? In any adaptation, some detail is going to be lost, unless you want your movie to be ten hours long. In this case, we are presented with the absolute bare bones of the major arguements in the novel (which is, essentially, the plot: arguements about semi-random shit) without any context or leadup.
But there were also so many poignant moments lost or altered. In the movie, Rob sees Marie LaSalle (a singer-songwriter that he later sleeps with) sing a song he hates (Peter Frampton's Baby, I Love Your Way) and says, "I always hated this song, but now I kind of like it." In the book, he cries, and is incredibly embarrassed by how emotional he is over his recent breakup (and that he's crying at a Peter Frampton song, of course). In the movie, when Laura's father dies she and Rob have sex in her car because she doesn't want to feel the pain of losing her father. I remembered that scene well, and it really is very poignant. But here's the book version: Laura wants to have sex in the car, and Rob rebuffs her by refusing to sleep with her because she didn't use a condom with Ian (her interim lover) and she might have AIDS. In his internal narrative, he states that he did this to hurt her.
These changes lose something not quite defineable but infinitely important that make the book funny and sad and truthful and the movie funny and irritating and Hollywood. I'm pretty sure that this is why I can't get through it. It used to feel more realistic, and now it just feels like a movie.
But at least now I have a nice little celebrity crush on Iben Hjejle, the Danish actress who plays Laura. So i guess I got something out of it.

1 comment:

cassalyn said...

hated the movie the first time i saw it. was amused by the funny parts upon subsequent viewings, but still really turned off by the leading lady (sorry) and movie's generally blah nature. read the book then and fell in LOVE with it. unfortunate missed opportunity to make a great film filled with all the insight of a great book.