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High Fidelity - Wikiscreenplay

High Fidelity

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TitleHigh Fidelity
GenreRites of Passage – Adolescent Passage
Runtime113 mins
Movie Databasehttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146882/
Log LineWhen his live-in girlfriend walks out on him, a music store clerk with a penchant for top-five lists goes on an comically indulgent path of self-exploration
Moral Premise{{{MoralPremise}}}
Opening Image1We open the film with Rob Gordon in his dark apartment wearing headphones drowning himself in music. We will experience music as a cornerstone of this film. Laura enters and unplugs his headphones.
Theme Stated15Barry burns a musically ignorant customer over his terrible taste in music. Barry queries Rob on the “Top five musical crimes perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Sub question - is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his later-day sins? Is it better to burn out than to fade away?” Rob will have an answer to this last very important question by the end of Act II.
Setup1-16 minsLaura is leaving Rob. Rob is dealing with this painful moment by listening to music. Laura leaves their apartment. Rob is miserable. After Lara walks out on him Rob offers us his top five most memorable break-ups list.

Rob heads out to work at his Record store Championship Vinyl. Rob says that he gets by because “people make a special effort to shop there looking for rare music.” Will you make a special effort to look for something rare Rob? Dick arrives at Championship Vinyl followed soon after by Barry. Rob is not interested in making small talk or debating music which is clearly what these three usually do. Rob continues his top five count down with Charlie Nicholson. “We went out for two years and...I never got comfortable” Rob says.
Catalyst17Laura Leaves Rob
Debate17 - 30Why did Laura leave Rob? Rob is at his apartment and continues his top five most memorable break-ups countdown. Dick arrives and invites Rob out to Lounge Ax. Rob decides to stay home and sort his record collection “autobiographically” because it’s “comforting.”
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Rob’s mom calls but Rob has a hard time breaking the news to his mother. Rob’s mother tells him "you meet someone, you move in, she goes!" Rob’s mom is so callous she even repeats it. Is this a clue as to why Laura left Rob? Rob’s mother isn’t showing much emotional generosity. Rob hangs up on her and decides to go to Lounge Ax. Rob meets Marie le Salle and begins to fantasize.

Rob tries to deal with his breakup by fantasizing about a new relationship with a musician. ”I want to live with a musician, she’d write songs at home, ask me what I thought of them” Rob says. Rob imagines how great life would be if he lived with a musician. If it were only that easy, Rob.

The next morning Rob surprises Laura as she arrives to pick up more stuff. Rob ambushes Laura - "do you still love me?" "That's not the issue" Laura says. Rob asks "what else is there?" Laura tells Rob they "don't get along" and that he must "make himself happy." "You're the same person you used to be, and I'm not" Laura says. Laura tells Rob he hasn't changed and he hasn't got a clue. “You have to allow for things to happen to people, most of all to yourself, and you don't" Laura tells him. Rob and the audience now have their answer - Rob refuses to change. As we will find out, making a loving commitment necessitates change. You can’t commit to someone else without changing who you are. That’s what’s so magical about love in the first place.
Break Into Two31While he’s talking to his sister on the phone at Championship Vinyl two major events hit Rob hard. Just as Rob’s sister says “I don’t think much of this Ian guy” A and B stories cross as Dick announces to Rob that Marie le Salle is in their store. Rob’s hit on both fronts like a lightning bolt. Rob rushes out to meet Marie and quickly heads off to the closet to ask the camera “what fucking Ian guy!?” The Act I world of being miserable and confused now shifts into the upside down world of Rob’s chasing fantasies and chasing Laura.
B Story28
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I had some trouble with the B-Story in this one. There’s Laura, Liz, Marie, and the “musical moron twins” as an option. But it’s the “twins” that offer Rob and the audience an escape from Rob’s love problems. Rob shares music insights with these two. Louis, Rob, Barry, and Dick hang out at the record store and discuss music. Barry burns another customer by refusing to sell him music. Louis tells the guys that they are music "snobs" and they “pick on people” who know less about music. Barry and Dick are extensions of Rob’s character. Rob is both a self-centered music snob much like Barry, but timid and sensitive like Dick. The guys of Championship Vinyl offer both Rob and us a break from the pain of Rob’s heartbreak. Further, the guys attitude towards music mirrors Robs attitude towards change... He's a snob and refuses to admit newcommers to music as much as he refuses to admit change upon himself.
Fun and Games31 - 55Rob rushes home to find out who Ian is. Rob discovers Ian was their offensive upstairs apartment neighbour. “I never liked him much then, I fucking hate him now” Rob grumbles. Rob goes to his bed and buries himself under the covers. Rob has a panic attack over Laura's secret betrayal. Rob tells the camera painfully that Laura is now in his top five most memorable break-ups “with a bullet.”

The next day Liz arrives at Championship Vinyl and tells Rob he’s an “asshole.” Rob admits to the camera he’s not been the best partner. Rob had an affair while Laura was pregnant. Rob admits he borrowed a lot of money that he has yet to return. Just before Laura left Rob told Laura he was "looking around for someone else" because he wasn’t happy. "I am an asshole" Rob admits to himself.

Rob says that Laura tricked him into sharing how he felt so Laura could indulge in an affair with Ian. Rob feels by admitting his own doubts that he absolved Laura of accountability. Rob acknowledges Laura is much smarter than he. Rob shows some humility for a modest frame.

Rob wrestles with his thoughts on the train ride home. Rob acknowledges that when he found out about Laura's pregnancy and abortion he became self righteous. Rob asks himself "what's wrong with me? What happened? Why am I doomed for rejection?" Rob is still going about this the wrong way. There’s no limit to Rob’s self-indulgence. Laura gives Rob the answers he needs in Act I but Rob won’t accept them.

Rob decides to explore his past to find out why he’s doomed. Rob calls Alison Ashmore's mother and argues with her about who Alison's first boyfriend was - Rob or Kevin? Rob insists his repeated rejection is “fate, destiny, beyond his control, and therefore not [his] fault”. Rob feels that exploring his past relationships will help him get through his break up with Laura. Not likely Rob.

Rob fantasizes that Bruce Springsteen is giving him advice. Bruce advises Rob to contact his big five and say good luck so he can move on, so he can feel better. What’s wrong with this picture? We know this isn’t going to turn out well, but this is Act II Fun and Games time, so we tread on.

Alison Ashmore and Rob meet to catch up. Rob asks Alison why she rejected him. Alison is upset at Rob's self centeredness and informs him that Rob broke up with her because Rob wanted sex when she wasn't ready. Rob feels he’s making progress, but we can see Rob’s really just digging himself an even bigger hole.

Rob contacts Sarah. Sarah is experiencing depression, so Rob decides not to press his theories on her. Rob turns down sex with Sarah. Rob feels he would be exploiting her illness. In its own twisted way Rob’s gesture was a mature one.

Shift gears and head back to Championship Vinyl. Barry burns another customer for their ignorance of music. Dick meets Anna over a discussion about the influences of Green Days music. A new love springs up in the store. Maybe Rob’s fortress of solitude isn’t as safe as he thinks?

Rob meets up with some teens trying to shoplift from his store. Rob doesn’t call the police. Instead, Rob burns the teens for listening to the wrong music. At the end of the work day, Rob discovers Laura waiting for him outside the store. Laura offers Rob a ride home – she wants to pick up more of her stuff! How much baggage does this woman have? It is interesting that Laura doesn’t enter the store until Act III.

Laura arrives with Rob at his apartment and asks "have you tackled the great re-organization yet?" Rob shows Laura the letter, and Laura admits she's living with Ian. Laura says she's “not been fair” and she's been working up the courage to talk to him. Rob asks if they still have a chance. Laura tells Rob they have a nine percent chance of reconciling. Rob is feeling hopeful, but Laura warns Rob that sleeping with Ian is better. Rob wants to know if the sex is better. Laura finds his thrashing about for meaningless details amusing. Laura tells Rob they haven't “done it” yet. Rob ignores Laura’s warning and instead is excited to hear Laura hasn’t had sex with Ian “yet.” Rob is still looking in the wrong place for his solutions.

Rob celebrates his victory by boxing in the street to the tune of we are the champions. Has Rob solved his problems by fantasizing about Marie? Will chasing his old girlfriends for answers find him any? Will asking Laura about her sex life get Rob through this? As we shall soon discover, Rob’s false victory is both premature and immature.
Midpoint56Rob’s fantasizing reaches its peak when Rob sleeps with Marie le Salle. Rob sums up his experience with Marie. “I invented a sketch of a deep and sensitive guy” Rob says. Rob admits he’s “grumpy, broke, and hangs out with the musical moron twins.” Rob’s realizing his faults now. “I think its ok to feel horny and fucked up at the same time. Why deny ourselves a basic human right just because we messed up our relationships” Marie asks. They both take ownership of their problematic love lives. Rob and Marie part ways on the street, both heading in opposite directions. They clearly will not be meeting again. They accept their time together was self indulgence.
Bad Guys Close In56 - 75Rob explores the meaning of "I haven't done it yet..." with Barry at Championship Vinyl. Rob calls Laura to meet after work. Laura admits to Rob that she's had sex with Ian. Rob runs from the restaurant in silent torment. Laura calls a miserable and rain soaked Rob at home to explain herself, but he hangs up on her.

Rob calls Ian’s place from a phone booth in the rain. Rob tells Laura he loves her and that he thinks she's running. Rob shows generosity here by trying to understand her feelings. Liz asks Rob "why do you want Laura back so badly?" Rob doesn’t know why he’s doing what he’s doing.

Charlie calls Rob at the record store. Charlie invites Rob to a dinner party. Rob tells her "I'm in" and welcomes her friendship. Rob keeps secret the ulterior motive of finding out why she dumped him. Great start to a friendship Rob.

Ian arrives at Championship Vinyl. Rob fantasizes telling Ian to get his "pathetic rebound ass out of [his] store", and imagines beating Ian senseless. In reality Rob merely listens to Ian's warning and offers no response.

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Rob arrives at Charlie's dinner party. Rob realizes Charlie's “awful”. Charlie “doesn't listen to anyone and talks nothing”. Rob never noticed it before. Charlie tells Rob that she dumped him because Marco was more “glamorous, sunnier, less hard work, sparkier”. Rob’s recognizes Charlie’s self-centeredness. Rob actually outclasses Charlie. Rob is beginning to see an answer – sincere generosity for others. Rob must, if he changes at all, change into something other than Charlie.

Meanwhile back at Championship Vinyl a musician finally answers Barry's add to jam. Rob offers to take Barry and Dick to the club after work. Barry tells Rob he doesn’t plan on being at Championship Vinyl forever. Dick has a date and turns Rob down as well. Barry congratulates Dick on his "getting some." Rob stands in Championship Vinyl alone. Rob remains in the dark store watching Dick and Anna kiss across the street. Rob’s friends are changing; they are growing up and moving on.

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Rob arrives home to find Laura has found his Top Five Jobs list. Laura reads Rob’s top five things he would like to do if "time, qualifications, history, and salary were not an object.” Rob is beginning to think about making himself happy. Laura is amused with Rob’s list. Laura tells Rob she's come by for the last of her things. Laura leaves for the last time.

Rob lists the top five things he misses about Laura to the camera. This is a powerful moment for Rob. Laura abandoned Rob and cheated on him, but Rob shows true warmth and love rather than the bitterness we saw in Act I. Rob refuses to offer us the Top Five things Laura does that make him crazy because "that's the kind of thinking that got me here." Way to go Rob, you’re getting it!

Rob arrives at Championship Vinyl the next morning. Dick tells Rob Laura called, but Rob overhears music that's new to him. Rob explores the source of the music. Rob meets Vince and Justin, the two boys who tried to rip off his store earlier. Vince and Justin are surprisingly talented. Rob offers to put out their record. Rob is doing something to make Rob happy. Rob announces his record label - Top Five Records.

Laura's father dies. Barry offers to do Top Five songs about Death Tribute List while Rob consoles Laura on the phone. Laura invites Rob to the funeral, but she warns she is “not going to hold his hand.” Barry begins to sing "The night Chicago died" and Rob assaults Barry on the record stacks. Rob isn’t hurting now its Laura who’s in pain. Rob attacks Barry to put a stop to it. Again Rob shows generosity. Rob’s attack is canned in the opposite camera view from Act I, interesting.

After the funeral, at Laura's mom's place Rob listens to Liz talk to Laura’s sister Jo about Laura. Rob assumes they are talking about him. Liz shows disapproval with Rob’s selfishness and suggests Rob apologize. Rob hesitates, then walks up to Laura and says sincerely "I am sorry" turns and walks out into the rain.
All Is Lost87Music begins to play. Rob sits on a bench to wait for a bus in the drizzling rain. Laura won’t be returning to Rob’s place for anymore of her things. Rob has lost his dignity by stalking Laura and Ian. Rob’s friends are moving on without him. Rob’s sister is furious with him. Laura is living with another man. Rob is worse off than when his journey began.
Dark Night of the Soul87 - 93The rain and Rob’s suppressed feelings pour into the camera. "I can see now I never really committed to Laura, and that prevented me from doing a lot of things. It made more sense to commit to nothing, to keep my options open, and that's suicide...by tiny, tiny increments." Is it better to burn out by making a sincere commitment than to fade away by playing it safe and fantasizing? Absolutely. Rob’s figured it out now. Laura arrives at the bus stop in her car to find Rob hiding in a flower bed. "Are you going to lie in that flower bed all night? You're soaking, and you're an idiot" Laura says. Rob offers himself at last "look Laura, I'm really sorry, is there anything I can do?" Rob asks Laura if he can help her for the first time. Rob is looking to others and their feelings now instead of his own. Rob is putting Laura first now. This is love at its finest moment. Rob knows he’s lost everything, but instead of thinking of himself, Rob opens up to offer Laura whatever he can.
Break into Three93Laura takes Rob to a secluded spot her father used to take her family. Laura asks Rob to have sex with her, so she can feel something other than pain. After they spend their time together Rob invites Laura to go be with her mom. Again Rob is showing that remarkably sincere generosity that is bringing Laura back to him. Laura tells Rob she wants to be with him again. "I know it’s not very romantic and I'm sure there will be romance again at some stage. Right now I just want to go home with you." Rob accepts her request and takes her home.

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Finale93 - 106Laura moves back in. Rob and Laura spend time together again, and they fall in love again. Rob still isn't happy. Why not? Rob meets Caroline and they flirt. Rob finds Laura has begun promoting his Record. Rob's terrified. Rob tries to persuade Barry not to play at his record promotion party. Rob asks the Kinky Wizards to avoid the promotion party too. Rob’s scared of something.

Rob and Laura discuss the fact that Rob is finally returning music. Rob’s living for the first time. Rob is creating life rather than just watching life happen to others and criticizing it.

Caroline interviews Rob. Rob flirts with Caroline and offers to make her a tape. Laura catches Rob on the phone with Caroline but says nothing. Rob debates with the camera. Rob’s has feelings for Caroline. "My guts have shit for brains" Rob proclaims.

Rob proposes marriage to Laura. “Fantasies are great because there aren't any problems. I'm tired of the fantasy. Fantasies don't exist, and the fantasy never delivers” Rob says to Laura. Rob has put an end to his fantasizing and accepted commitment and true love – the love that has “big problems.”

The record release party starts. Our B Story crosses with our A Story as Barry, Dick, Anna, Liz, Rob, and Laura all gather together for Rob’s foray into record production. Rob is nervous about introducing the Kinky Wizards and Barry’s band “Sonic Death Monkey” to the audience. Rob is afraid Barry will scare the audience away before the audience has even heard his record. Barry's good, Barry’s damn good, and everyone is pleasantly surprised. The party’s a success - Rob’s part of the music world now, Barry’s a hit, and Dick’s “getting some!”
Final Image106Rob sits in his apartment with his headphones on again where the film began. Nice bookend finish! Rob describes the making of a great compilation tape. This tape however is not for Rob or Caroline, this tape’s for Laura. This tape’s "full of stuff that would make her happy. The first time [he] can see how that's done."
NotesThis is one of my all time favorites. There is room for argument that this is a Buddy Love Film. I argue that this film follows a very similar plot line to Kramer vs Kramer. Both men have their spouse walk out on them in the first few mins of the film. The only difference is that in Act III Laura returns to Rob, while in Act III of Kramer, Dustin is left with only his son. Further, Rob and Laura are united at the Beginning of Act III. Rob has some work on his own he has to do that runs for the last ten minutes of the film... And it has little to do with Laura. Rob has to stop fantasizing his way through life... And he accepts things as being just fantasies at the end. He was an adolescent at the beginning of the film... Throughout the story he gradually becomes a man.
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