Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson) is the personal assistant to ageing diva Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). This low man on the totem pole position in the music industry is played out with all the trappings, the completely dismissive manager Jack Robertson (Ice Cube), the wacky housekeeper Gail (June Diane Raphael), and all the gilded cage trappings like huge wardrobes, big houses and fast cars.
Maggie is good at her job but dreams of more. She secretly wants to be a record producer and has the musical smarts and sensitivity to do just that. The banter between the players shows that the writer, Flora Greeson has a good working knowledge (or good advisers) of the minutia of soul music and this attention to detail is fun for fans of that genre of music. Her grasp of personal dynamics is less sure.
The musical interactions between players are satisfying and well informed while the characters’ interpersonal actions are often contrived and predictable. It is amusing to wallow in the crazy requests made by Grace to her lowly underling. When Maggie meets David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) a singer/songwriter with real talent, the story takes a familiar turn.
The first two acts are entertaining as we get to see deep-seated passions for music in full swing but it struggles to sustain your interest as things progress. With a screenplay that consistently rewards music fans with deep memories, The High Note relies quite heavily on your ability to relate to its rather far fetched final reel.