After tackling some interesting films in the last few years (presumably to wash away the stench of Fifty Shades), Dakota Johnson has proven herself to be an immensely talented actress in recent titles like Suspiria, Wounds and The Peanut Butter Falcon. All the more disappointing then, that her latest – Nisha Ganatra’s The High Note – is formulaic cookie-cutter fluff.
Set in the dazzling LA music scene, Johnson plays Maggie, long-suffering assistant to the superstar diva Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Motown royalty Diana). As both are presented with chances to alter the courses of their careers, their increasingly strained bond becomes tumultuous. Throw in a cliché love story for Maggie, wholly predictable character beats for everyone on-screen and a totally unwarranted twist and you’ve got The High Note.
Performances across the board are solid, sure – Ross steals the show with a performance clearly modelled somewhat after her legendary mother, and she certainly shares strong chemistry with co-lead Johnson who, as always, delivers. A supporting cast including hip-hop icon Ice Cube and rising star Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the crowbarred-in love interest make up a brilliant cast who certainly elevate the mediocre material, but unfortunately the formulaic screenplay from first-time writer Flora Greeson casts a powerful shadow over proceedings that leaves the final product feeling unoriginal and lazy.
Those looking for rom-com comfort food in these dark times may be swept away by the glitz and glamour of The High Note, but there’s a very strong chance you’ve seen this all before.