The script of The High Note, by Flora Greeson, is long on wish-fulfillment and short on inside authority, and the director, Nisha Ganatra (“Late Night”), stages it with a hit-or-miss geniality that keeps cutting corners on the story’s emotional honesty. The feel-good factor hovers over this movie like a fuzzy bland cloud.
Arguably, the most exciting turn goes to a foxy, blue vintage Dodge Challenger. A small knot of cattle comes in a close second, scampering away from roar of the car chase. Because, yes, there’s got to be one of those, too.
A wise, graceful but viciously felt study of middle-school best friends whose bond becomes a burden the further they recede into adulthood, it resorts neither to buddy-movie cliché nor melodramatic angst in portraying the ways we outgrow our friends, and they us.
Will there be young people who love this movie as much as their parents loved Coolidge’s “Valley Girl”? Sure, that’s bound to happen, but no one will be talking about this movie in 37 years. And with no new music — just second-rate covers of classic songs — it may well be forgotten in fewer than 37 days, lost to the void of VOD.
Far more than the memoir, the film presents a manicured version of the way Michelle Obama sees herself — and yet, even such a carefully image-managed impression can be telling, since it diverges so significantly from the way the world perceives her.
It’s also made fresh by the myriad literary and cinematic references Wu weaves into Aster’s correspondence with “Paul.” With its slightly nerdy, play-on-wordy title, The Half of It alludes to the ancient Greek belief that two-faced humans were separated by the gods, devoting their lives to finding their lost soulmates (if you like the idea, read Plato’s “Symposium,” or check out “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”).
The film successfully mixes together a lot of things, from the waterfront tourist-town setting of “Jaws” to a general teen fantasy-adventure feel that tempers (without weakening) horror content variably redolent of “It,” “Fright Night” and myriad other predecessors. If originality isn’t a strong suit here, the film’s conviction and polish make that a minor sin.