In a world where music plays serious enough of a role to people that they act out what they hear, no lyrics can be taken lightly. It can be so easy to relate to someone else’s stories that it is even possible to be drawn into the same emotions expressed by the musician. If “High Fidelity” were a pop song, it would be sappy in connection to love, depressing in connection to heartbreak and it would be uplifting in connection to settling down. “High Fidelity” represents mans struggle to grow up, settle down, and at the same time, not feel like he or she is simply “settling” for what he or she can get.
The use of pasting the chronology of Rob Gordon’s life played by John Cusack in random order throughout the film helps give perspective on his struggles with relationships and figuring out exactly what he wants in his life. Spike Jonze incorporates several clever metaphors for Rob Gordon’s constant debacle of relationships and ability to settle down through a comedic approach to the somewhat depressing storyline. By utilizing metaphoric symbols, fluctuating the storyline and making the supporting cast subplots thematically related to Rob’s life, Spike Jonze conveys a well-produced theme of love, heartbreak and settling down in relation to the effect of music in “High Fidelity”.
The storyline of a movie is what makes piecing the puzzle of a plot together dramatic all the way until the end of the movie. Spike Jonze takes the many different time periods of Rob Gordon’s life and places them sporadically throughout “High Fidelity” in order to provide heavier drama and thicken the plot into a melodramatic climax. The plot of the movie is developed in three parts, also known as the Syd Field Model in which the “Three Act Paradigm” is used. The movie begins in the present of Rob’s life where he is breaking up with Laura. This scene brings about the idea behind the theme of the whole movie, Rob’s “Top 5” lists.
In Rob’s first “Top 5” list, his five most memorable breakups are told to the viewer and this sets up the way in which the rest of the movie is schemed out. As “High Fidelity” is not planned out specifically, everything that happens in the movie happens at the point it does for a reason. In the first part of the movie, Rob switches between explaining his top five breakups, learning about his life at Championship Vinyl and his dramatic relationship with Laura. This section of the movie portrays all of the hardships Rob has faced with girls throughout his life, while a subplot directly refers the viewer to how music has influenced his emotions.
In the beginning of the movie, Rob says “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” The true influence of music on Rob’s life is brought out once again in his ownership of a record store and more blatantly uncovered when he decides to reorganize his overflowing record collection by the “autobiography” of his life. The jumps in the movie denoted to Rob’s life are filled up by more stories of past girls on Rob’s “Top 5” list of worst breakups. This first section of the movie is meant to make the viewer feel certain sympathy towards Rob’s character because he is very easy to relate to.
In the second portion of “High Fidelity”, Rob continues to suffer from missing Laura and to comfort himself, he flashes back to the past once again to find an answer to his problems. During this period, Rob has a new girl whom he is “hooking up” with, a new found problem dealing with Laura having a new boyfriend, conflict with realization of fault with Laura, and most importantly, the idea that if he finds out the reasoning behind all of his “Top 5” breakups that he will be fulfilled and able to move on. This section indicate that Rob is soul-searching and praying that an answer to why he can’t maintain a serious relationship will arise. Once again Spike Jonze focuses very much on how Rob handled breakups in the past maintaining that the past cannot be dwelled upon.
In the third and final act of the movie, tough times bring Rob and Laura back together. It is only when he meets another woman that he then realizes why he must settle down and concentrate on building a future with Laura. Also in this final section, Laura has Rob play a gig as a DJ like back in his old days. This time Rob is releasing new material being symbolic of him starting over. Rob’s asking Laura to marry him carries the film over its hump at the climax leaving Rob less confused and much more sure of what kind of future he wants. The final act of this film helps demonstrate the theme of this film by point Rob in the right direction with settling down and building a future in his mind.
Subplots are created in movies to help add meaning to and develop the plot more precisely. In “High Fidelity”, Spike Jonze utilizes the identities and personalities of several of the supporting actors to relate to Rob’s struggle in finding himself. Two of the main supporting characters create a few subplots on their own providing evidence to Rob that no matter how different people’s personalities may be, everyone shares the same idea of growing up and settling down. Barry, played by Jack Black, plays an over enthused, trouble-making employee at Rob’s record store. Throughout the movie Barry cuts down other people’s music tastes making it appear as if he knows more than others, therefore he is better.
This correlates indirectly to Rob’s struggle to find a solid relationship whereas Rob searches out to prove that the women from his “Top 5” breakup list were all wrong and that he never made any mistakes because he knows how to handle relationships better than anyone. In a scene where Barry refuses to sell a record to a customer because he is a “geek”, Lewis, a friend of Rob, Barry and Dick’s refers to them as snobs symbolizing Rob’s snobbish ways of looking back on past relationships. Lewis says, “You guys are snobs…you are totally elitists. You feel like the unappreciated scholars so you shit on the people who know less than you…which is everybody.” Later on in the movie as the plot becomes better developed, a passer by of Championship Vinyl responds to a sign in the window that Barry put up as Rob says “17,000 years ago”.
When Rob confronts Barry about this encounter later, Barry does not make a big deal out of it and simply responds by saying, “What, did you think I was gonna stick around here the rest of my life?” Not only does this focus in on the fact that moving on and settling down matter to everyone, but also, the way that Barry handles it so nonchalant is done to show Rob that one can not just jump right into new things and assume that everything will work out the way he or she expects. This is trying to show that patience is necessary for something to be successful. Coming out of this scene, Rob’s other employee Dick has met a girl and must leave to go out with her. He sees Dick hugging a girl as he leaves and it makes him sad that he is so alone.
At this point, both Barry and Dick leave and tell Rob that they will not be able to go out tonight. This declares Rob’s loneliness as well as his need to find something to settle down with in life. Vince and Justin, two juvelnile shoplifters at Rob’s store, but who also write and record music play another subplot created by supporting cast. Vince and Justin at first show they have no promise as people by coming into Rob’s store and shoplifting several records.
When Rob hears their music being played in his record store, he goes in search of them and offers to put out their record on his label. By offering to them that he will put out their record, it symbolizes forgiving and especially shows that it is important to look beyond people’s flaws. Rob’s employees and the two skater kids create a strong subplot as supporting characters by indirectly referring to what Rob needs to change in his life.