There are almost too many movies that follow a character who works for someone famous, has dreams of becoming as famous as them, but the person they work for doesn’t have that same belief in them. For that reason alone, I think it’s sort of impressive when one works really well. Supposed to hit theaters, but now streaming on-demand to rent, THE HIGH NOTE (2020) is the prime example of a story that feels tired but works really well anyways. I enjoy underdog films, but I’m always worried I’ll be able to predict everything. Well, this movie was an absolute catch-22 and here’s why.
Maggie (Dakota Johnson), being overlooked by her superstar boss Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), works on the side, trying to make a name for herself after finding a very talented singer in David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). The two of them find passion in their music together and eventually form a romance as well. Not only does this shine a light on the fact that her attention is being taken away from Davis, but it also may lead to a promising future for everyone involved. Through the many trials and tribulations that these films offer the audience, it can feel very formulaic, but I feel that it works very well, and that’s due to the characters all being well-rounded.
It does help when your character is written well for you, but Dakota Johnson has been on a roll lately in terms of roles and performances. Before her work on FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015) made her a household name as an actress, her small roles in THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) and NEED FOR SPEED (2014) always stood out to me more. Once she started broadening her career by appearing in smaller films like THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON (2019), THE FRIEND (2019), and now THE HIGH NOTE, I need to keep an eye out for all of her films. I believe she is becoming a great actress if she’s not there already. On top of that, Kelvin Harrison Jr. through film like MONSTERS AND MEN (2018) and WAVES (2019) has been on my radar as well. Their chemistry here was really enjoyable and it made the movie worthwhile in the end.
Now, here’s where some viewers may take issue. Like many horror films, romantic comedies, and thrillers about kidnapping people these days, stories like this will always feel a little been-there-done-that now. Yes, THE HIGH NOTE plays out exactly as you think it would, but there’s a nice emotional backbone to the story and it came to fruition by the end of the run time. I rolled my eyes at a few instances while watching, but this was ultimately a really satisfying and fun movie to watch. Especially right now, I think movies like this need to be watched.
In the end, THE HIGH NOTE is the type of film that’s absolutely harmless in nature. A feel-good story about a likeable character trying to find their way. In times like the ones we are living in right now, you can’t ask for a nicer story to watch. Is it perfect? Definitely not, but I honestly think most viewers can find enjoyment in this one. The subject matter of music may not entice everyone, but there’s more to the story than that. I recommend giving this one a rent if you’re looking to smile and have a good time.