It's another light drama set in the world of music, but "The High Note" doesn't do much to add to a genre that has been totally played out.
There's a lot to like in "The High Note," but the focus seems to be a bit...off-note. It's light, fluffy and digestible for a film that seems like it should have had some more meat on its bones.
Maggie (Dakota Johnson, better than she's been) is the personal assistant to aging diva, mega-star, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter or Diana Ross), whose career is on the down-turn. Grace's producer, Jack (Ice Cube), is trying to guide Grace's career on a safe trajectory, but young Maggie - overlooked by everyone until now - sees this a springboard for her music producing career.
The rest of the story hits all of the beats you would expect it to without really saying anything. There are some interesting tidbits about how women over a certain age seem to have more than an uphill fight...in this industry, the glass ceiling for women - and especially women of color - is still quite low and sturdy. Why then, does "The High Note" devolve into shallow rom-com territory in its latter half (with Maggie falling for an up-and-coming singer played by the red-hot, up-and-coming star, Kelvin Harrison Jr.), instead of leaning into the issues it has raised?
If nothing else, "The High Note" shows off a bit more range for Dakota Johnson, and for Ice Cube, whom we've all known for quite some time is a talented actor but who hasn't taken on roles that really ask him to stretch his talents.
In this weird world where movie theaters are a thing of the past (and hopefully, the very near future), all new movies can be given that "Well, it's a good movie for streaming but I wouldn't have wanted to see it in a theater" pass. "The High Note" isn't a waste of your time, but it also isn't a tune that will stick in your head for very long after taking it in...it's the same problem created by director Nisha Ganatra's last film, "Late Night," a film that was all ingredients and no flavor...much like "The High Note."
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Run Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ice Cube, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Eddie Izzard, Bill Pullman, Zoe Chao.
Directed by Nisha Ganatra ("Late Night")
"The High Note" is available for streaming On Demand as of Friday, May 29th, 2020.
Looking for a specific movie or review?