REVIEW: It was the movie that made listicles cool, celebrated the art of the mix-tape and helped launch the career of Jack Black.
Yes, 2000’s High Fidelity was a rare beast. A successful trans-Atlantic transplant, an adaptation that stayed true to spirit and tone of its source (Nick Hornby’s fabulous 1995 novel) and a noughties rom-com that rocked and struck a chord with audiences around the globe.
Twenty years on and its tale of a lovelorn, struggling record store owner named Rob has been given a different spin for a new generation. Debuting on Neon this Monday, a 10-part dramedy gender-flips High Fidelity’s protagonist and brings the tale into the current era of smartphones, dating apps and vinyl’s revival.
A year on from her last traumatic break-up and Zoe Kravitz’s (daughter of one of the original film’s stars Lisa Bonet) Rob still isn’t sure if she’s ready to date. As she steels herself for just such an evening out, she reminisces about her failed relationships past, concluding that the most important lesson she’s learned is that you need to like most of the same things.
Half-an-hour in, unsure if she’s bored or just distracted, Rob makes a break for the ladies’ with the intention of skipping out on her company. Unfortunately, leaving her phone behind means she has to beat a hasty return to the table.
To her surprise, things then pick up, with an opportunity to deliver a dissertation on Fleetwood Mac (“Rumours was more about the band’s internal drama than the music”) leading to a night spent together.
However, just when Rob thinks things might be going her way, her lack of faith in men is restored when her guest skips breakfast and she discovers that her last great love has moved back to town.
* Gender-swapped remake of High Fidelity starring Zoe Kravitz comes to TV
* Normal People: A beautifully understated and achingly romantic drama
* Zoe Kazan stars in alternative history drama The Plot Against America
* Movie Review: The Neon Demon
Boasting the same direct-to-camera addresses, hip soundtrack (the first episode showcases a Dexys Midnight Runners classic) and smart dialogue that marked out the movie, Bull and Ugly Betty writers Sarah Kucserka and Veronica West’s “reimagining” benefits greatly from Kravitz’s (Mad Max: Fury Road) charisma and a scene-stealing turn from Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite is My Name) as Rob’s high-spirited employee Cherise.
If nothing else, what you’ll take away from this entertaining series is that you can judge a person by their playlist.
Little Voice is now streaming on Apple TV+.
Meanwhile, Apple TV+’s latest 10-part drama Little Voice offers a similarly themed, but stylistically very different take on life and love in contemporary America.
It’s the story of Bess King (Brittany O’Grady, one of the stars of last year’s New Zealand-shot Black Christmas), a New York dog walker, bar worker and aspiring singer-songwriter. While happily taking inspiration from everything around her, Bess is frightened of performing her tunes in public, still bruised from a night when a bunch of “drunken d…heads overwhelmed her”.
However, encouraged by her new storage unit next-door neighbour Ethan (Skins’ Sean Teale), she seizes the chance to take the stage at her bar when the headline act for the evening falls foul of an internal squabble. Things though don’t go exactly as planned.
Created by the dynamic duo behind the wildly successful musical Waitress – writer Jessie Nelson and musician Sara Bareilles – Little Voice is a charming coming-of-age tale which strikes just the right balance between winsome and world-weary.
O’Grady shines in the lead role, whether delivering plaintive, soulful, piano-based songs, playing a meaning-filled game of Scrabble, or reciting her father’s sage advice that “we’re all broken, that’s how the light gets in”.
You can also see the hand of executive producer JJ Abrams’ in Little Voice’s tone and themes, it feels very much like a sibling show to his beloved late ‘90s/early noughties series Felicity.