The Blu-Ray of High Fidelity comes with Spanish, French, and Portuguese audio tracks. It would be a true shame if I never listened to any of them. So, in this bonus viewing, I decided to watch and critique the Portuguese dub. Because Brazilians need depressing comedies about record stores too, and this is the closest thing I’m getting to a Rio vacation this year.
WHEN: 4:30PM EST, December 4th, 2012
WHERE: At my apartment in Portland, ME (Alderaan)
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV, Portuguese audio on
Watching High Fidelity has become an altogether unbearable experience. It is a struggle to keep my eyes on the screen. But apparently, changing the audio track is enough to trick my brain into thinking I’m watching a different movie. I was able to sit back and enjoy the performances in a way I haven’t been able to do since maybe June or July.
Thanks to my extensive familiarity with the movie, I knew what was going on at any given point in time. I don’t speak a word of Portuguese, but am mildly familiar with Spanish sentence structure, so there were moments where I was able to piece together what various words must mean.
The quality of the performances varied from character to character, some hitting the mark, some missing horribly. The dub is fairly well-synced to the actors’ mouths, less so when lines of dialogue start overlapping.
I get the feeling that the actor voicing Rob has had experience filling in for John Cusack. He has the voice down, and his tone almost always matches Cusack’s original. You can tell this actor is a pro. It is alarming, though, to see Rob poke his head around a corner and shout “Oy!” instead of hey.
Barry sounds almost nothing like Jack Black, but he has the same off-the-cuff spirit. He is true to the part, just not to the original performance. All of his weird little noises are completely improvised. His “Night Laura Died” is set to a completely different tune. His machine gun fire when giving Rob the middle finger is more sustained. But these things just make the viewing experience more entertaining, so I take no issue.
Dick sounds much the same, but the Portuguese r-rolls give him slightly more bravado. You can also hear him breathing heavily at a number of points. It’s a little odd.
Ian has a deep sonorous voice making him mildly more imposing.
Sarah’s voice sounds like it belongs to a larger woman.
Penny’s voice is overacted and cartoonish in the flashback sequences (probably an overcompensation for playing a high schooler, as she sounds fine in later scenes).
One of the most interesting differences was in Marie DeSalle’s voice. In English, every word that comes out of her mouth drips with a lethargic sarcasm, but the Portuguese actress’s performance seems much more sincere. As a result, I found myself reading her facial expressions as warmer. It was a bit of an eye opener how much the tone of her voice affected my response to her character.
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS:
The soundtrack remained unchanged though sometimes the mix was different. A song that might have been in the background was slightly more prominent or vice-versa. All of the live performances were also intact. When Barry gets up to sing at the end of the film, he suddenly has a different voice. I suppose it would have been prohibitively expensive to do it any other way.
The majority of the sound effects were re-done. Those that weren’t have a slightly tinny sound, as if they were recorded off of someone’s TV. Some of the re-done sound effects are a little wonky. For example, Laura’s bag of clothes at the beginning makes a sound like it is full of trash when she sets it down. During the Allison Ashmore sequence, all of the activities the background kids are engaged in get their own sound effects, so we get to hear some new bat slapping and finger snapping.
If you speak Portuguese, and want to watch High Fidelity in your native tongue, this isn’t a bad option. If you don’t speak Portuguese, I can see no reason to watch this. I’m not even certain why I did.