The High Note tells the warm and inspiring story of Maggie (Dakota Johnson), an aspiring music producer. Maggie works as a personal assistant for the pop diva Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross).
In her job as personal assistant, Maggie does all kinds of scut work for long hours. She’s not appreciated. If she dares to express an opinion about the music, she’s put down and ignored. But she doesn’t let it discourage her.
Maggie reworks Grace’s music on her own. She thinks it sounds better and works better. When she tries to bring it up, no one listens.
Maggie hears a talented man singing at a grocery store. He’s David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). She convinces him to let her produce an album for him. She doesn’t tell him what her real job is. She manages to get his music heard by people with the power to sign him as a singer.
Maggie knows everything about pop music. Every detail. She plays, sings, and composes. But the passion she can’t ignore is to produce – to get that perfect sound from the singer and the band.
The music in the film is wonderful. All sorts of music is included besides the performances from Tracee Ellis Ross and Kelvin Harrison Jr. I’m really a sucker for anything with music, and this film is no exception.
Some of the supporting characters were little more than foils for the main characters. Jack (Ice Cube), Grace’s longtime manager, seemed to be there for the sole purpose of ranting at Maggie for her failings.
Other secondary characters included Katie (Zoë Chao) who was Maggie’s roommate, Gail (June Diane Raphael) who lived with Grace and did who knows what, and Maggie’s dad (Bill Pullman) who was a radio DJ.
I found Maggie’s determination and optimism refreshing. She was dealing with super talented people and managed to get the best out of them. She was ignored, devalued, even fired. But she was good and she knew it. She didn’t let life get her down.
I enjoyed Maggie’s story, I enjoyed the music that surrounded her, and I enjoyed The High Note to the lovely surprise end. There are some Tracee Ellis Ross fans who were disappointed by the film because they were under the impression that it was about her character. If you go into it knowing it’s Maggie’s story, you’ll have less to complain about.
The film was directed by Nisha Ganatra and written by Flora Greeson.
The High Note is free with an HBO Max subscription. It’s available on Prime Video to rent.
Here’s the trailer.
Have you seen this film? What did you think of it?