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The High Note Reviews

The High Note is a comedy/drama with visions of grandeur and amateur talent. A watered-down fairy-tale version of A Star is Born from the perspective of the producers, it manages to hold its own as it hits the right notes, even the high ones. Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson) has always dreamed of being a music producer. She lands what she thinks is the ideal job, working as a personal assistant for an iconic though perhaps fading musical talent, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). While Grace highly depends on Maggie to keep her relevant in the music industry, Maggie mistakenly thinks that the harder she works as an assistant, the more likely she will get her shot to produce.  In addition to the grueling hours she puts into her job, Maggie still stays committed to producing, jumping at any possible opportunity to prove herself. When Maggie meets an up-and-coming new artist, David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), she takes him on as a second client, and their attraction to each other grows as a result. She then finds herself stretched a bit thin, with everyone needing more of her time and energy. Despite Maggie’s high energy and love of the game, even she reaches a breaking point as things start crumbling around her. Maggie and Grace need to figure out the crux of their relationship – are they actually friends, or is the friendship paid for by Grace? While The High Note doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it does paint a quiet portrait of what it’s really like working on all sides of the music industry. From assistants, to disc jockeys, to producers, to artists, there are many roles at work around the scene. Even the bit roles are filled well, and it all comes together to create an extended slice-of-life scene. Director Nisha Ganatra (Transparent, Cosmopolitan) flourishes in the quiet moments, while the spoken words here are fairly on-the-nose. She imbues a cut-and-paste script with enough charm to fill the running time, pulling from the lot of talent to make something pretty good. Newcomer writer Flora Greeson has created an intriguing story in which the main character is not particularly interesting, but she is heroic and tenacious. The diva character is well-written with plenty of subtlety. The actual love story is with music and is almost an afterthought, and while highly scripted, it’s palatable since the rest of the moving parts keep pushing the film forward. Ultimately, there is plenty to like in The High Note, and little to offend. Los Angeles culture and the music business are shown in an intriguing, girl-power story that aims high and lands somewhere above the middle.