Now Available On Demand: The High Note

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Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson) is living her dream. Sure, her job requires long hours, low pay and near anonymity, but Maggie is working for a woman she is enthralled with. The incomparable Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) is nearing the end of an illustrious career and has been a crowd-pleaser for years.

For Maggie, just walking alongside Grace is something special. She is in love with Grace’s music and looks at her as a model of what a woman can be. Her own ambitions take a back seat and are accomplished on her personal time, as limited as it can be.

And Maggie, more than anything, wants to be a producer, so she works with the talented folks that surround Grace, after hours and on her own, to put her stamp on some of the legendary music that has been produced by the iconic diva.

Grace’s manager Jack (Ice Cube) wants to collect some cash as her career winds down and is encouraging the singer to take up a residency, letting her fans come to her. But Grace longs to be the special artist who puts out new music and tops the charts again. Maggie wants to produce her idol’s new music, but has no experience other than her side work. She is starting a relationship both business and personal with David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Can Maggie have it all?

The High Note is full of amazing music. It’s a soundtrack that hits all the right notes. I really was taken with Harrison Jr. as his role and ability in this film find a way to carry every scene he appears in. We enjoyed his work in Luce and Waves, and here he feels like he is ready for a mainstream bust-out, in a very big way.

Ross is serviceable and has the diva role down pat, and Cube is solid but underused in the film. The High Note is really a film at its core that feels all about Johnson and her character Maggie. That aspect proves to be a stumbling block for me. Johnson needs to walk the line between the naive assistant who is a pushover and an ambitious go-getter trying to get ahead. Neither truly works and Johnson just feels constantly a bit wooden until a couple late scenes soften the hardened texture of her character. That said, this is a perfectly pleasant rom-com at its heart that checks the requisite boxes in bringing a formula to life.

If not for some fun music and some uplifting moments, this would be like a failed audition. The High Note is a bit pitchy, but delivers a passable effort.

The High Note is available On Demand. Check your cable system for availability