High Fidelity review remake that’s too cool for its own good

Zo Kravitz makes on John Cusacks role, relitigating her romantic past to get over a breakup, in this often hollow 10 -part Hulu update of the Nick Hornby comedy

Rob Brooks, the whiz of Hulu’s reimagining of High Fidelity, is a difficult protagonist to have sympathy for. She is, first and foremost, played by Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz and an actor of effortless cool. She garments in thoughtless more perfect thrifted clothings, owns a( seemingly successful) record store employing her two most special friend, has a comfortable Brooklyn apartment filled with vinyls and a usable bathtub, and can easily school anyone’s music learning while slinging back whiskey neats. She has, in other words, all the enviable verve of a rockstar child; her biggest concern is her regression with the three men who dropped her a year prior, hitherto High Fidelity tries- and tries very difficult, sometimes entertainingly- to realise you feel her nostalgic miscalculations are an all-consuming, relatable pain.

The result is a show which is sometimes grating yet sneakily juggling, in the way that beautiful, curated messiness are available to. The Hulu show re-envisions the 2000 movie- itself an adaptation of a 1995 Nick Hornby novel set in 1980 s London- in which John Cusack represents a self-absorbed record store owner relitigating his nostalgic past to get over an ex. This edition swaps Chicago for Crown Heights( and a little Williamsburg ), and the Everyman Cusack for sublime Kravitz, it maintains Rob’s fourth-wall violates, through which to dismiss someone or something, and a plan to revisit past heartaches to explain how she’s alone by age 30. The gender snap smartly reorients the music of the movie; now, a black, faggot female( one of Rob’s top five ex-lovers is a woman) imposes the terms of flavour and argues the vibe, even if her pop culture awareness is almost entirely music-centric( a series-long chip involves Rob talking about but never actually watching The Sopranos, a hand-picked to ignore a television touchstone that feels targeted and also very much something I have done ).

The show also gives the duration, perhaps to its disservice; over 10 half-hour episodes, Rob stews over her ex-fiance Mac( Kingsley Ben-Adir ), who dropped her a year ago and recently moved back to the city. She copes by hashing out theoretical top five listings( top five desert island masters, top five all-time heartbreaks) with her works/ best friends Simon( David H Holmes) and Cherise( a scene-stealing Da’Vine Joy Randolph ), and half-hearted relationships with guys she increases to cliches- a red-hot musician( Thomas Doherty, in a character initially played by Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet) and Nice Guy With A Prius Clyde( Jake Lacy ). Her misfortune party- darkness out at the bar where she used to DJ, nights in smoking to old-fashioned records- is soundtracked by an omnivorous, too-cool playlist( the Root’ Questlove serves as musical consultant ).

Kravitz is an able performer who sheens in Rob’s instants of sincere conflict, but is miscast for a persona as a relatable everywoman whose self-pity is supposed to anchor a five-hour show; it’s hard to take her seriously when she saunters down the street saying ” New York is full of people who stir you feel not enough” or exclaims she’s always dreamed of dating a musician. It would be one thing if the depict was in on the joke, if Rob’s judgments of other’s stability or style or music flavor as uncool were thrown or turned away on her. Instead, the picture predominantly feeds into her impression of predominance- an influencer clan is, as she discloses to the viewer, disturbing and basic, an old-time relationship she applies for a night out is tiring, and she isn’t proven wrong.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Zoe Kravitz and David H Holmes in High Fidelity. Photograph: Phillip Caruso/ Hulu

Spending five hours in Rob’s world is depleting, but it’s also urging, in part because of, unfortunately, the natural plot of an artful mess, but primarily due to a great supporting cast- Randolph makes a profundity of insecurity and imaginative horror to Cherise’s no-fucks-given attitude, while a vessel occurrence dealing Simon’s top five sufferings( his first serious suitor, a charming yet untrustworthy advocate) does more to explain the lethal seduce of self-destructive love than Rob’s hours of” I’m an asshole” soliloquies.

There’s to be expected that Rob’s self-imposed poverty will sputter out into a kind of decide, disclosure or sincere revelation- something the structure of 10 half-hour episodes with copious digressions permits her to escape too often. Rob’s asshole tendencies- abandoning others, coldness, flippancy- aren’t so much explored in this series as be supported by her own feel of complicatedness, of interesting-ness. At one point in her past-heartbreak tour, she attends a dinner party at a luxuriant Brooklyn apartment, during which an influencer-type asks her to take a photo.” Does it inspect real ?” the status of women expects, posing with a can.” Does it appear fucked up and vibey ?”

Rob clearly considers this play-act cool with disdain, but it speaks like the show’s underlying questions spoken aloud. Does this depiction of life in 2019 Brooklyn- the sterile neon-lit coffeehouses and expensive coffee, the banter with the friendly bodega man( a excellent instance of what Willy Staley recently worded” bodega fetishism “)- gaze awfully? Does Rob’s sorrow regard jolly? Do they too ogle fucked up, in a vibey, safely stimulating nature? Rob’s suffering watches as though it could be formulated for a fad campaign- vignettes of near-tears, angsty cigarettes gulps and the sallow ogle of just-smudged mascara. It would be nice if the hurting of mid-2 0s sadness glanced this good. Which is to say, High Fidelity often seems familiar, and sometimes fucked up, clearly vibey. That’s a solid rob for witness, but most won’t mistake it as real.

  • High Fidelity opens on Hulu on 14 February and in the UK at a later date

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ tv-and-radio/ 2020/ feb/ 12/ high-fidelity-review-hulu-zoe-kravitz

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