6/10 The story of an assistant and her dreams of becoming a producer, as well as the woman she works for, “The High Note” is fine for a rental but ends up being more of a middle note, with some highs and some lows throughout. Let’s take a look at the lows first. If you take away our two female leads and Dakota Johnson’s love interest, all of the supporting characters are either very one…note…and/or poorly written due to how paper thin they are. June Diane Raphael plays Gail, who really serves no purpose in the story and if you took her character completely out, you wouldn’t notice a thing. Ice Cube plays “angry black man”, which is the role he plays in 99% of everything he acts in. I guess Laurence Fishburne was unavailable for the part. There is also a gigantic coincidence that is given to us as somewhat of a plot twist in the last 15 minutes of the film. It was all so convenient and I wasn’t buying it. There was also one moment that got preachy that made me role my eyes. Tracee Ellis Ross as Grace Davis is also a pretty mean spirited person to have your audience root for. She treats her loyal assistant like crap for a full three years and then in one apology we are supposed to forget about all of that and think she is a good person. Finally, the direction and cinematography fall on the more bland, vanilla side. Since music plays a big role here, some stylistic flair could have benefited. Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” comes to mind when I think of a film set in the musical world but that had more of a distinct, memorable look and feel to it. As for the high notes that this film accomplishes, the acting that Ross and Johnson put in is fantastic, Johnson in particular. If you take out the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy, the films she has decided to act in have been varied and impressive. If she keeps taking on these great roles for herself, I see her star power rising even further. Her love interest, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr., also gives a great performance and after last year’s “Waves”, he too is making solid career decisions. All of the musical aspects in the film felt very real and authentic. From the dialogue about favorite singers/bands to the kiss ass executives trying to push their agendas upon artists to the actual editing and mixing of recorded music, “The High Note” feels like writer Flora Greeson herself has put in years of work in the music industry, or at least has done her due diligence when it came to researching what she wrote about. The soundtrack worked well and the film has a really feel good ending to it that made the film overall very uplifting and enjoyable to watch. Even though the film pushes two hours, the pacing worked and there was no fat to trim, making the film entertaining from start to finish. While by no means perfect, if “The High Note” were a Sam Cooke song, it would probably fall near the end of part two of his Greatest Hits album, but it is still worth a listen if you are longing for new film material on…another Saturday night.
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