Inspiration is an increasingly precious commodity in this confusing and tense time. The High Note (directed by Nisha Ganatra) is just what you need to revive your motivation to create and consume meaningful art. Warm and uplifting, The High Note will help you center yourself in hope even in a season where it is easy to feel stuck or alone. This film maintains authenticity and groundedness while telling a story full of glamour. While it could easily have slipped into cliché, it instead compassionately offers insight into the underbelly of professional music making. The High Note has good music, relatable characters (even if they are in unrelatable situations), and believable dialogue. This film convincingly tells a fulfilling story with characters I not only want to watch but also would love to meet in person.
There are a few aspects of The High Note that distinguish it from other films with similar plots. For example, the two main characters, Grace and Maggie, both have rich personal identities that go beyond their dynamic together. Their story feels true and accessible and as such creates a connection between the audience and the characters. Instead of focusing on the glitz and glam of Grace’s fame, this story focuses on the importance of valuing the art more than the money.
Another distinct characteristic of this film is its inclusion of surprising and important information about the music industry in a way that is completely natural. These facts not only serve to inform the audience but also to root the film in the reality of music today. This movie skillfully navigates a difficult space in which it is neither afraid of uncomfortable truths nor intent upon forcing them into the script. All of the references and statistics included in the movie want to be there. (If you are interested in delving more deeply into these allusions, be sure to check out my coming article where I break them down.)
Most significantly, we do not walk away from this movie feeling completely satisfied. Instead, we feel curious. How does the story end for Grace, Maggie, or David? Does it really matter? We have been taught to measure success by endings and numbers. The High Note challenges us to consider the validity of those measurements.
This film is more than a self-contained story about songwriting or the business of music. We walk away from it caring not only about the characters but also about the deep and lovely history of a beautiful art form. We walk away itchy to experience and contribute to it.
Yes, this movie is about music; but it is also about motherhood, friendship, and the refusal to stop believing in yourself. It is about hard work and challenging all the voices telling you that you are unworthy of your dreams. It gives you permission to look at yourself, empowered, and consider: maybe you are not too much. Maybe you are capable. Maybe all you need to be successful is a little bit of talent and a lot of passion and grit. So go write something. Go play something. Because, my God, what if it makes you feel whole?
The High Note is a cup of hot chocolate and a much needed hug. Check it out where you stream your movies. You’ll be glad you did.