The High Note

Tracee Ellis Ross stars in “The High Note.”

I sure do enjoy getting back into the theater after being banned by germs. And this week we get to see a first-run feature film, “The High Note.”

This drama set in the world of the recording industry features Tracee Ellis Ross, the daughter of the divine Miss Ross, Motown super singer, Diana Ross. Tracee has an extensive list of acting credits in TV land. She plays a super star singer well into her decades in the spotlight. Dakota Johnson starred in the infamous “50 Shades” films of love and bondage. She also has famous parents, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.

Actor Kelvin Harrison Jr. began his movie career in 2013 as victim two in “Twelve Years a Slave.” Here he provides the romantic and professional pivot of the film.

Other famous names include Ice Cube as the Diva’s manager, Bill Pullman and Eddie Izzard.

Also active in the TV realm is director Nisha Ganatra. She has a few feature films under her belt as well, but none we have seen or heard of.

Writer Flora Greeson also has a short sheet as a writer, this being her only feature screenplay.

Sometimes every portrayal by every actor in a film rises to the extraordinary, and I think it happens here. Tracee Ross swings from haughty diva to vulnerable middle aged woman but always believably, no minor achievement. Johnson plays with timid grace a talented young woman over her head professionally. Ice Cube plays an often selfish man who is also devoted to his lifelong friend and patron. Izzard comes across as Obi Wan of the music business, kind and terrifying in his truth.

The script and direction are firm enough to contain the story and loose enough to let the actors do their thing, to act. It makes for an enjoyable two hours spent in the lives of interesting, decent people. Not so bad in these troubled times.

“The High Note” runs just shy of two hours at one hour and fifty-three minutes. It carries a PG-13 rating. I urge parents to pay attention to the ratings. PG-13 films are not suitable for younger children. “The High Note” deserves an above average three and a half saw blade rating. This one made me happy as I left the theater.

Best line comes as the doctor who roommates with Maggie, the Johnson character, shows a photo of a heart she has repaired that day. All the principal characters are talented artists in their various ways but Maggie says, “Nothing we do is significant, is it?” Maybe not compared to mending a heart, but making us smile counts for something.

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