Zoe Kravitz. Hipsters. Indie music. New York.
These are makings of an infallible formula, no?
Zoe Kravitz stars in yet another retelling of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” a timeless tale of breakup set to the soundtrack of its title character’s favorite songs and, less so, break-ups. It revolves around Rob, a recently single New York-native wrestling with the grief and loneliness of solitude in the big city. Accompanied by friends and colleagues Cherise and Simon, Rob attempts to navigate a post-relationship world.
The original novel and film adaptation, starring John Cusack and Kravitz’ own mother Lisa Bonet, tells the story from the male perspective. This modern retelling breaks ground and flips the script to drive the narrative using a female voice.
Taking it one step further, “High Fidelity” is as well adjusted as each character portrayed, imagining several complex sexual relationships in a casually fluid manner. Gone are discussions on one’s sexual identity, and replacing it are fully realized sexual beings moving through life’s universal dramas.
Just as ubiquitous is the series’ soundtrack. Featuring a sweeping array of contemporary classics and those of yesterday, the show is assisted by the profound music at its core. From a walk home set to Frank Ocean’s “Nights” to a furiously passionate verbal review of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” the tunes help to shape the tone and enrich the themes of the series.
One of the biggest issues with this new adaptation, though, is its inability to dive deeper into the music. For a possible second season, it would be great to further unfurl Rob’s passion for music and that aspect of her identity. As it stands, her personality is mainly derived from her past relationships, both in romance and friendship.
Not just in fully realizing Rob as an independent character with desires outside of her relationships, the show suffers from many of the common tropes audiences are used to when it comes to romantic comedies. This is most evident in the first few episodes as Kravitz breaks the fourth wall to reminisce on her “Top 5 Heartbreaks.” The jaded scoffs at her pretentious chosen lovers only ironically point to her own self-absorption.
The show does find its footing after a few expository entries, delving deeper into Rob’s narcissism and encompassing social circle. At the forefront of the supporting cast are Simon and Cherise, both fully equipped with their own passionate musical opinions and romantic challenges.
One of the strongest episodes, in fact, is Simon’s bottle episode. Like Rob, Simon outlines his Top 5, but with a twist. Many of Simon’s top 5 are separate occurrences from the same person – a toxic dynamic that he couldn’t seem to break free from. All too relatable, the story gives necessary depth to Simon’s character.
Cherise unfortunately did not earn the same exploration, but that absolutely leaves room for growth in hopefully what will become a second season. To grow, the series should expand beyond Rob in any future episodes and open the world of “High Fidelity” to the many compelling characters and the equally so soundtracks accompanying their day to day.