Have you ever wanted to be someone completely different? At some point, we all go through this feeling. The High Note, from Focus Features, directed by Nisha Ganatra and out on VOD today, compresses that feeling of craving meaning to life.
Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is an assistant to one of the biggest pop singers in the world, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). When she isn’t assisting Davis, she’s restoring songs from her old albums, though really what she wants a chance to prove she’s a talented producer. Throughout the entire film, Maggie does her best to depict how much music has affected her life. This is shown in subtle ways, such as when Maggie displays just how particular she may be when analyzing soundtracks. Meanwhile, Ross’ Grace Davis is angsty, hardworking and a true embodiment of a perfectionist. Ten years past her time as the biggest singer in the world, she’s stuck doing Vegas residencies. While great for financial stability, Davis dreams of putting out an album that resonates with her now; one that will tell her story as forty-year-old women of colour in the industry. The acting by Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross was terrific. It was evident by the way they acted that they had established a friendship.
Of course, in a film about music, there are several classic songs referenced throughout The High Note to capture the essence of different moments. “Share Your Love With Me” by Aretha Franklin was one that created a picturesque feel. Original songs were created during the making of the film I would genuinely listen to on a regular basis, one of which is titled “Love Myself”. I was in awe hearing how fitting Ross was singing these songs, though it should come as no surprise that she has the vocal chops, as her mother is the legendary Diana Ross.
Along with its memorable musical moments, The High Note is visually stunning. Every single transitional establishing shot of Los Angele’s scenery evoked the feeling of being in L.A. and having to make it, while red practical lighting is used elegantly in a few of thee scenes between Maggie and her love interest David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
Finding a purpose is a task everyone goes through in their own way. The High Note highlights multiple characters either finding that purpose or reestablishing their purpose. For music lovers, it’s highly recommended.
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