Friday, 29 May 2020

The High Note (Movie Review)

As movie theaters around the world start revving up to reopen ahead of TENET this coming July, smaller titles affected by their current closure continue to find a home on video-on-demand (VOD). The High Note was originally slated for a May 8th release, but landed on VOD earlier today. I'll confess, I would have more than likely skipped this movie had it been released in theaters. But with the pickings being as slim as they are right now, I figured it was at least worth checking out.

The movie stars Dakota Johnson as Maggie Sherwoode, a personal assistant to an aging soul singer named Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). It is a job that she sort of excels in, even as she struggles to cater to the every demand of one of the music industry's biggest divas. But Maggie is also aspiring for more, through her overall love of music production, a love that drives her to secretly cobble together mixes of her boss's music during her off-work hours, much to her roommate's chagrin.

She is convinced that Grace needs to put out new music in order to stay relevant, a conviction that is not shared by Grace's long-time manager, Jack Robertson (Ice Cube). Jack believes that Grace is well past her prime, and is content with her continuing to live off the success of the music in her back catalogue. So when Grace is offered a residency at a Las Vegas nightclub, Jack sees it as the logical next step for a woman of her age, a sentiment that is also echoed by the executives at her record label.

But an opportunity would soon present itself for Maggie to realize her dream of becoming a producer, when she meets David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), an upcoming R&B singer with whom she shares a love of music but who has no aspirations of taking his music to the next level. Maggie is determined to produce for both artists, except she would first have to convince each one to take that leap of faith with her, a risky venture as she could end up losing everything she'd worked for in the process.

The High Note is a comedy drama that sticks quite closely to the rom-com template. It is helped along by great performances across the board, but it never even attempts to thread new ground, and when it tries to throw a curveball, it takes the form of a twist that I feel required a little too much suspension of disbelief. I am not going to spoil what it was exactly here of course, but I found it a bit jarring (not to mention lazy) that the writers would actually go that route with the story.

But negatives aside, The High Note is a feel-good movie that doesn't offer much in the way of surprises. Is it entertaining enough to keep you occupied on a lazy weekend afternoon? Yes. Sure it is. But would it leave you with any kind of lasting impression afterwards? Nope. It didn't leave me with any. That's not to say that it isn't worth checking out though. At least until the TENETs start coming out once again.


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