Movie #202 2020: The High Note (2020)

Woo! New movies! That’s right, somehow there are still new movies coming out in the age of COVID and closed cinemas, and we are so grateful.

The High Note is one of those movies that doesn’t really have a singular genre, and instead covers comedy, drama, musical, and romance all in one. In the lead role, Dakota Johnson stars as Maggie; the personal assistant to legendary soul diva, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). What Davis doesn’t know, however, is that her trusty aide has bigger dreams to become a producer, and accidentally meets a singer-songwriter in the bodega where she lives. Maggie then begins to produce the music artists in secret, but she happens to be keeping secrets from her new client too…

Put simply, this movie is pointless… and I loved it. Overall, the movie encapsulates the kind of joy we need right now, and it was way, way better than I ever imagined it would be. Let me tell you why.

That cast is incredible. Of course we all knew that the iconic Tracee Ellis Ross was going to be brilliant in this, but Dakota Johnson took me by surprise. She manages to create an empathy in the audience for her character, and this ended up being a great performance on her behalf. Though I’d not heard of Kelvin Harrison Jr. before this, he does amazingly well as the singer-songwriter who falls into Maggie’s lap. I’m not entirely sure if this is really his singing voice, but if it is, then wow that dude can sing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a real life recording contract after something like this.

Perhaps what I enjoyed more than male viewers might is that you can just tell The High Note was written and directed by women. On Letterboxd, this movie has only averaged a 3.1 star score, but I can only assume that’s because men “didn’t get it”. There are so many good jokes in this, and the female friendships were perfectly written. (Shout out to Johnson wiping her sweaty phone screen on her clothes mid-workout. Too accurate.)

If you’re going to make a movie about music and musicians, the chief thing you have to get right is the music. And I actually really enjoyed the music in this! Not only are there a few original songs, but the popular music chosen to appear in the soundtrack was outstanding. (Think Aretha Franklin and Maxine Brown to name just a couple.

For the most part, the plot was entirely plausible and aptly gripping. However, the ending of this was the part that needed the most editing. Rather than a tidy wrap up, we get quite a few sequences that are heavily drawn out and laboured. For instance, there are some scenes involving a beach house that could have easily been condensed into a singular sequence, but end up being three or four minutes too long. Nevertheless, this is still a solid movie that did not feel the length of its run time.

On the whole, The High Note is nothing groundbreaking, and it won’t change your life. But that doesn’t matter. This comes with a definite recommendation for me, especially for the gals.

The High Note is a new release, and therefore will set you back £13.99 on Amazon currently. However, I’d say that’s a small price to pay in comparison to what you’d pay at the cinema!

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