The High Note Hits In The Middle

Dakota Johnson stars as Maggie Sherwoode and Tracee Ellis Ross as Grace Davis in THE HIGH NOTE, a Focus Features release. Photo credit: Glen Wilson/Focus Features

A overworked assistant with dreams of being a music producer reaches a potential turning point in her career in The High Note.

Late Night‘s Nisha Ganatra takes the helm behind the camera.  After taking us behind the scenes of a late night writer’s room, we now get to experience the life of a musician and those who surround her.  Well, more so on at least one person who surrounds said musician.  In this particular instance, the focus is on women who usually have it harder in the music industry.  Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is Grace’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) personal assistant yet dreams of being a music producer.  Grace is every bit the diva and yet the singer has to find ways to remain relevant in an industry that looks all too often to youth.

When Maggie meets David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), everything changes for her.  She starts working with him as she begins to transition from overworked assistant to music producer.  But before she can make any kind of movement on that front, Grace’s manager, Jack (Ice Cube), seems to have other ideas in play that could change her future.

While there’s certainly a message in this film about pursuing your dreams, some of said message is a bit muddled.  It ought to be stated right now that only three women have received a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year.  Even if Maggie pursues this dream of hers to become a producer, how high will she be able to soar?  All of that really depends on being at the right place at the right time.

Between Luce and Waves, Kelvin Harrison Jr. is having quite the time in his career. After two outright dramas, audiences now get to see the actor’s lighter side.  By which, I mean his musical side.  But is it enough to save the film?  The actor certainly does what he can with the material.

The High Note may provide comfort for some but it feels mostly forgettable a few weeks after watching the film.  Outside of the musical highlights, there’s not much in the film other than cliches.  I hate to pan a film but it’s the honest truth.  It could work for you but regrettably, it didn’t work for me.

DIRECTOR:  Nisha Ganatra
SCREENWRITER:  Flora Greeson
CAST:  Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Ice Cube

Focus Features launches The High Note on Digital/VOD on May 29, 2020. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.