“The High Note” started life as a screenplay titled “Covers,” and at instances the music-themed drama turns right into a tribute to the ability of a canopy music carried out by somebody aside from the one who originated it: Aretha Franklin with Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Share Your Love,” the Staples Singers with the Band’s “The Weight,” P.P Arnold with Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” the Dixie Chicks with Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” …
And the film, which was directed by Nisha Ganatra (“Late Night”) and written by Flora Greeson, want to take some acquainted materials and put a recent spin on it, too. How effectively is succeeds is determined by one’s tolerance stage for understatement and for unabashed corn, each of that are discovered within the movie, although clearly not on the similar time.
Instead, it bounces round like a musical artist decided to point out off the entire repertoire in the midst of a number of songs. “The High Note” is a personality research, it’s a romance, it’s a dismissive take a look at the music enterprise and a celebration of the ability of music, it’s a film that refuses to go down the trail it’s been telegraphing and a film that pulls out all of the stops to get the place you figured it might all alongside.
The Focus Features launch, which might have landed in theaters if not for the coronavirus pushing it to a VOD launch, is a little bit flat and sort of a multitude, however a low-key and nice one which goes down agreeably sufficient for many of its working time.
Dakota Johnson performs Maggie, the non-public assistant to Grace Davis, an imperious soul diva who’s obtained 11 Grammys and doesn’t appear fairly sufficiently old to have settled onto the nostalgia circuit, although that’s the place she appears to be. “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross performs Grace in a means that implies she’s paid some consideration to her real-life mom, Diana Ross, although the character’s whiplash-inducing character – she’s capricious and flighty, regal however needy – doesn’t at all times add as much as what appears to be an actual individual.
Grace’s supervisor, Jack (Ice Cube in his goodnatured glowering mode), needs her to experience the gravy prepare and take a Vegas residency, however Maggie is bound that Grace ought to report new materials – and what’s extra, that she ought to do it with Maggie as her producer. After all, we all know Maggie’s obtained nice ears as a result of she name-checks Aretha and Nina Simone, Carole King and Joni Mitchell, Elmore James and the Staples Singers – and we all know she’s no person’s pushover as a result of when she has a meet-cute with aspiring singer David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) on the Laurel Canyon Country Store, they find yourself arguing in regards to the deserves of “Hotel California.”
(Maggie votes nay, which I might fortunately settle for if she didn’t attempt to seal the deal by evaluating it to “Brown-Eyed Girl,” which is a rattling nice pop music.)
But David will get to her by singing Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” on a makeshift stage out behind the shop, and seals the deal when she goes to a celebration at his home and finds out that whereas he’s suspiciously wealthy, his report assortment contains Dinah Washington, “Pet Sounds” and Marvin Gaye (on vinyl, after all).
Johnson and Harrison are informal and understated, a profitable couple whose low-energy courtship begins as a enterprise relationship, albeit one which includes numerous lies. Maggie feels the necessity to inform him that she’s a profitable producer who’s making time for him in her busy schedule, leaving out that that schedule consists of taking a giant star’s garments to the dry cleaner and ensuring mentioned star is aware of what metropolis she’s in on tour.
As the lies pile up, you realize the second of reckoning is coming – and you realize that Maggie gained’t be capable to juggle her world with Grace (fame, hysteria, large cash offers) and her one with David (informal banter and late-night journeys to the recording studio).
David may wish to develop into a profitable musician, however he’s hesitant; Grace may wish to make new music, however…
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