This may be the story of a rock star, but director Nisha Ganatra orchestrates her film as if it's a symphony. Peeking inside a musician's life has always fascinated moviegoers, whether it's the megawatt rise of A Star Is Born, the excesses of Get Him to the Greek, or the ridiculousness of This Is Spinal Tap. With The High Note, we get a funny but personal look at how a well-respected legend navigates keeping public opinion high and money flowing, even when some clearly consider her past her prime. Grace's struggles are seen through Maggie's eyes. Not only Grace's assistant but also a lifelong admirer, Maggie -- like so many aspiring people in entertainment -- is trying to figure out how to get to the next rung in her career ladder while keeping hold of the coattails of someone more successful. The film reeks of authenticity, which is solidified by casting Ross and Ice Cube (as Grace's manager, Jack): These two hold true knowledge of the music industry and real power in the entertainment community. It's hard to believe they'd allow the film to go off-key.
Known mostly for hitting it out of the park on TV (black-ish), this performance makes it clear that it's time to see Ross as a movie star. Sure, as the daughter of Diana Ross and music manager Bob Ellis, she's been training to play a diva her entire life. But what's really striking is that while she nails every line, every look, and every gesture, she is in no way doing an impression of her mother -- or of any other diva. Grace Davis is a complete original, and yet she's familiar. Kelvin Harrison, Jr. continues to show off his versatility -- it's hard to believe an actor so young already has such a wide range, and now he proves that he can sing, too. The High Note is the first piece of produced work for screenwriter Flora Greeson, and it proves that she's one to watch. Some of the characters' choices may make viewers want to plug their ears, but that makes the film an even better choice for families with teens, who can discuss: Were the characters' choices realistic, honest, or relatable?