What Would 'High Fidelity' Look Like If Written From A Woman's Perspective? Let's Gender Swap The Classic RomCom
It's hard to imagine that it's already been 15 years since the release of one of the seminal John Cusack classic films High Fidelity . The film, which was adapted from a book by Nick Hornby who also wrote About A Boy, was later adapted into a musical and it really is still one of the best movies to portray real characters and real flaws that arise from the beginnings and ends of real relationships. For those who have yet to be enlightened by the film, it follows Cusack's Rob, a record store owner and music lover who has just gotten dumped by his girlfriend Laura and decides to re-examine his life and his worst failed relationships, his Top 5 breakups as he calls them. The film is frustrating, obnoxious at times, hilarious, moving and altogether honest because no one character comes out looking perfect, as it happens in real relationships. But what would the film have looked like with a woman's perspective told upfront?
Imagine if you will, the same film but switching the gender. Instead of Rob Gordon, what if we watch Rose Gordon get dumped and reacting to her breakup the way Rob does to his. The film shows Rob screaming at Laura down the street saying things like "Sorry there's just no room for you in the Top 5. If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have gotten to me earlier." First off, I think this line could easily still apply to the gender swaped version of the film. That's easily something Rose would yell at Laurence (the boy version of Laura) while in the midst of their breakup.
But next comes the relationship investigations. It would be absolutely fascinating to see a woman who's trying to understand her past relationships by going down memory lane — mainly because Liz Lemon has kind of already done it to stellar effect on 30 Rock. But what would her old relationships look like? Rob's first girl on his Top 5 list was Allison Ashmore whom he first kissed in junior high until she dumped him for Kevin Bannister which Rob doesn't find out about until he sees them kissing the next day. In this scene, Rob's friend calls Allison a slut. If Rose's friend saw Albert (Allison's male counterpart) kissing Karen (Kevin counterpart), Rose would be heartbroken like Rob but there really is no negative word for men equivalent to the word "slut" for women. It's a shame really. And if Rose found out that Albert ended up marrying Karen, she would probably still be upset that he chose Karen over her without any explanation. I think the digging would go deeper to find out why this snub had been made which could make for even more interesting scenes.
Next up is Penny Hardwick. Rob dumps her in the film because she wouldn't put out. And while it possibly has happened before, I can't think of a woman dumping a man in high school for the same reason. In fact, the reason Rob felt like this was his heartbreak was because he heard Penny had sex with her next boyfriend and he felt rejected. But what he didn't know until his re-examination was that Penny felt pressured into having sex with the boyfriend and didn't actually want to do it. In her words she was "too tired to fight him off." And when Rob hears this, he celebrates that she didn't choose the other guy over him. This just doesn't seem like something a woman would do.
Charlie Nicholson is up next and in the gender-swapped version we could totally and thankfully keep the name. Charlie broke up with Rob and immediately got together with Marco leaving Rob to drop out of school and start working at a records store while his life was going down the drain. In the gender-swapped film, this would again totally happen. Like the original film, Rose could definitely feel like Charlie was too good for her, too smart for her, too good-looking for her, she could absolutely feel inadequate to the point that it made being with her difficult because she wasn't able to see the best in herself. And when Rose revisits Charlie later in life, she could also absolutely share in the realization that Charlie is actually a terrible person who's not nearly as interesting and exciting and awesome as she originally believed. I actually love the idea of this relationship being gender-swapped.
Finally there's Sam, or Sarah in the original version, who got together with Rose after they both had failed relationships but dumped her for another woman later on. This is a common relationship that many people share, the couple that wallows in their misery together rather than doing it alone. Another relationship that would work in the gender-swapped version of the film.
But more importantly than all of these previous relationships would be the one Rose shares with Laurence. If Laurence left Rose for Eva (like Laura does for Ian), the feelings of hurt would be the same. But the problems they had as a couple would be different. Rose would never have to deal with her boyfriend getting pregnant and having an abortion. If Rose cheated on Laurence like Rob does to Laura, there would definitely be anger but would Laurence have stayed like Laura did? Would Laurence try to pull Rose out of her funk like Laura did? Honestly, while I like the idea of a woman exploring her past breakups and growing into a better person because of it, I don't know if I would enjoy seeing a woman be so devoid of ambition like Rob is in the film.
It's rewarding to see the guy pull himself out of his at many times male chauvinistic ways to see that his past relationships ended because of his own issues. And it would be interesting to see a woman tackle a fear of commitment and deal with her own relationship issues because men and women are equally messed up in their own ways when it comes to love. But the film just doesn't work with a woman front and center, so many things would have to change to make the story be more realistic and more satisfying. Though I will admit, it would be awesome to see a female-version of Jack Black's Barry. Melissa McCarthy as Sherri perhaps?
I think High Fidelity should stay as a man's tale, and a woman can write and direct a story about a woman finding herself through past love.