#REVIEW: “THE HIGH NOTE”
By Mr. Will Wong
THE HIGH NOTE centers on Maggie (Dakota Johnson), who lands a dream job of being Grammy-winning Diva Grace Davis’ (Tracee Ellis Ross) Assistant. While navigating pushes and pulls in Grace‘s daily life, she quietly is working on fulfilling her bigger dream, becoming a Producer, putting together her own mixes of Grace‘s work. Maggie crosses paths with David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), an aspiring Musician himself and the two just might have what the other needs in setting them along their musical paths. Maggie soon finds herself torn in two directions, being there for Grace and also what she wants most for herself.
The key to any musical “star-is-born” type Film is that we must be swept away by the chase and thrill of our central character’s rise. The interesting thing about The High Note, directed by Vancouver’s Nisha Ganatra, is that its central character doesn’t dream of being a star, but a Producer. Ross’ Grace however in some of her luxurious absurdities however, does give us that glimpse into glamour and fun that comes with the world of superstardom.
That being said, Ross and Johnson have a fire and ice chemistry complementing one another and in an odd way, they grow from each other despite the mounting tension between the two as the story develops. The boiling point however, lacks the intensity and fire that say the likes of The Devil Wears Prada did, and that Film so masterfully examined the alpha female boss and passive assistant dynamic so well. We enjoy the understated depth that Johnson normally brings to her work and that is enough to maintain our interest here. Harrison possesses true musicianship and while highly-likable, somehow disappears in the mix as the Film feels it goes on about 20 minutes too long.
Also, in a Film set so deeply into the world of the making Music, the songs absolutely have to have an allure to them and while despite being well-produced, we don’t remember any of the tunes and hooks. And we love our Musicals!
While THE HIGH NOTE doesn’t quite reach the heights its name suggests, it does sound more like an earthy coffee house set, to be enjoyed at home on the couch wearing something comfortable.
Focus Features release THE HIGH NOTE digitally and on-demand Friday, May 29, 2020.