THE HIGH NOTE is just the kind of escapist movie you want to be watching in quarantine. It’s entertaining, has great performances and songs, and is an all-around positive and fun film. Despite a late reveal in the last 30 minutes that ends the film on a shaky note, I am glad Focus decided to release this on VOD so everyone can have a new movie to enjoy while stuck at home!
Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a music superstar who feels trapped in her previous hits. She goes around the country singing the same songs, year after year, and releasing “new” albums of her greatest hits or remixes of her greatest hits. For being one of the world’s most popular singers, she thinks she deserves to have some say in where her career goes next, not stuck in a Vegas residency.
Cut to Maggie (Dakota Johnson), Davis’ personal assistant who is trying to break into the music industry herself as a producer. Maggie fosters Grace’s longing for new music and wants to help be a part of it. But the two women have an entire music industry to convince. And when Maggie begins working with a handsome young singer named David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), she discovers a career in the music industry may be closer than she realized.
The chemistry between Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson is the heart of the movie and I don’t think the film would have been as successful without their believable friendship and work dynamic. I will admittedly watch anything with Dakota Johnson, who effortlessly exudes charm and girl-next-door relatability in this role. I loved that her character steered away from some of the typical movie cliches and made her own path for herself producing music. And that is very similar to how Johnson’s career and film choices have progressed since FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Instead of being pigeonholed into any set genre of films, she has pushed herself to explore different genres and roles that portray her enormous talent.
Ross also channels another frequency with her performance, expertly portraying the pitfalls of being an “aging” music superstar in the entertainment business. While we all know Diana Ross is her mother and Ross probably saw many of the same issues her character faced in her mother’s own experiences, in many instances her performance feels like a love letter to her mom and statement on women in the music industry.
Without giving too much away, my only real issue with the movie is a late reveal in the third act that was so outrageous, unnecessary, and out of the blue; it baffles me why they would even include it. The movie was going SO WELL without it and then went completely off the rails for no reason at all. I know I am speaking cryptically, but when you watch the movie, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
I know $20 can be a little pricey for a movie you’re watching at home, but I do think your money will be well spent for a night in with THE HIGH NOTE. You may spend the last 30 minutes of the movie rolling your eyes, but the rest of the movie makes up for it.
My Review: B