High Fidelity (2000) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Rob, a record store owner and compulsive list maker, recounts his top five breakups, including the one in progress.

  • Thirty-something Rob Gordon, a former club DJ, owns a not so lucrative used record store in Chicago. He not so much employs Barry and Dick, but rather keeps them around as they showed up at the store one day and never left. All three are vinyl and music snobs, but in different ways. Rob has a penchant for compiling top five lists. The latest of these lists is his top five break-ups, it spurred by the fact that his latest girlfriend, Laura, a lawyer, has just broken up with him. He believed that Laura would be the one who would last, partly as an expectation of where he would be at this stage in his life. Rob admits that there have been a few incidents in their relationship which in and of themselves could be grounds for her to want to break up. To his satisfaction, Laura is not on this top five list. Rob feels a need not only to review the five relationships, which go back as far as middle school when he was twelve, and try to come to terms with why the woman, or girl as the case may be, left him, but also, in the words of Charlie Nicholson, number four on the list, "what it all means" for why he has ended up where he is, which is nowhere, personally or professionally, close to what he envisioned. He also has to come to terms with what it means that Laura has moved on to Ian Raymond, a man for who neither had any respect when they were together.

  • High Fidelity follows the 'mid-life' crisis of Rob, a thirty-something record-store owner who must face the undeniable facts - he's growing up. In a hilarious homage to the music scene, Rob and the wacky, offbeat clerks that inhabit his store expound on the intricacies of life and song all the while trying to succeed in their adult relationships. Are they listening to pop music because they are miserable? Or are they miserable because they listen to pop music? This romantic comedy provides a whimsical glimpse into the male view of the affairs of the heart.

  • Rob gets ditched (yet again) by his current femalething. This catalysts a sordid self examinatory process about all his failed relationships. It's centred around his record shop, and coloured by his two motley socially inadequate assistants.

  • Arrested development confronts 30-something Rob Gordon when Laura, his smart and successful lover, leaves him because he hasn't changed since they met. He reviews his top five worst breakups (he constantly makes top five lists, though usually about music). He recalls each breakup, reconnects with these former loves to find out why they dumped him, and wallows in misery from losing Laura. Much of it plays out at his vinyl record store where he and two clerks, socially-inept savants, live and breathe obscure contemporary music. Rob makes fruitless attempts to win Laura back, indulges in new relationships laced with fantasy, and tries introspection. What will Laura do?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film centers on Rob Gordon (John Cusack), a self-confessed music geek whose flair for understanding women is over par for the course. After getting dumped by his current girlfriend, Laura (Iben Hjejle), he decides to look up some of his old flames in an attempt to figure out what he keeps doing wrong in his relationships.

    He spends his days at his record store, Championship Vinyl, where he holds court over the customers that drift through. Helping Rob in his task of musical elitism are Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black), the "musical moron twins," as he refers to them. Dick is quiet and reserved, Barry is loud, boisterous and confrontational. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical, they compile "top five" lists for every conceivable occasion, openly mock the ignorance of their customers, and, every so often, sell a few records.

    Rob and the staff have a strong dislike for two shoplifting skateboarder teenagers, Vince (Chris Rehmann) and Justin (Ben Carr). One day, he listens to a recording that they did (actually "The Inside Game" by Royal Trux) and offers them a record deal, starting his own label called "Top 5 Records". During his off hours, he pines for his lost girlfriend Laura and does his best to win her back.

    Rob also finds out that Laura has taken up with an older man who lives in her building. Ian (Tim Robbins) is a flighty, hippie type who stops by the store one day to politely ask Rob to stop bothering Laura. Rob imagines three separate scenarios; one where he insults Ian and tells him to leave, another where he lunges for Ian and has to be held back by Barry and Dick and the last where all three beat him viciously, possibly killing him. In the end, Rob lets Ian say his piece and leave unharmed.

    Rob soon hears that Laura's father, who liked Rob, has died, and attends his funeral with Laura. Shortly after the reception, Rob realizes he never committed to Laura and always had one foot out the door. In the process, he neglected his own future. Afterward, he and Laura move back in together again, and she organizes a celebration of the recently released single by the two delinquents, where Barry's band plays "Let's Get It On" and is delightful (to everyone's surprise). In the final scene, Rob finishes his advice about making the perfect mixtape, and says that he is now making one for Laura.

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