Music and love. Two very good subjects to do in films. So combining the two, and having the music of love AND a love of music, makes for a special film indeed.
A slice-of-life comedy about the pitfalls of love, Cusack once again proves why he's a dynamic force. His breaking of the fourth wall is most enjoyable, using it as a catharsis of sorts. I find that his character, Rob Gordon, is not unlike myself in a few ways. We're both heavily introspective, we stay out of fights between friends/co-workers (sometimes playing Devil's advocate just to get a resolution) and most importantly, we make Top 5's out of just about anything (well I have to do something to pass the time at work when I'm alone). Though I haven't seen Evil Dead 2 yet... (don't tell Jack Black's character, Barry).
On the subject of Jack Black, I found his role quite surprising here. He's laid back, sure, but also subdued and without manic energy. This is not a complaint, however, as it's nice to see him in this sort of role. If it weren't for the fact that this is based on a book and the dialogue probably being lifted straight from it, I'd say its almost like Jack walked on set and used his own thoughts to form dialogue. Wouldn't surprise me, being the keen musician he is.
If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was a Cameron Crowe film. He does slice-of-life comedies too and his ear for music is unparalleled. This film has some great music too and some excellent music references (bonus points for bringing up The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace).
The idea of going back through your past to examine your present love life really resonates with me. Some say to leave the past in the past, I say if you forget your past, you're going to make the same mistakes over and over. Sure it's okay to try and repress certain memories to an extent (school being one of those for this reviewer) but analysis of the past could lead to a present epiphany. Rob Gordon understands this and this forms the driving force of the story. He sees old girlfriends years after things have ended in an attempt to stop this pattern repeating. Sometimes I think I could benefit from that, maybe that's another thing Rob and I have in common.
Throw in a wonderful performance from Catherine Zeta-Jones and you have a very thought-provoking experience.