'The Christmas High Note' Review: Jamie Luner outshines her male co-stars in warm, charming holiday film
A deeply enjoyable film with an entertaining cast whose only weak points are its male leads and contrived conflict
Spoilers for 'A Christmas High Note'
Every once in a while, in a long-running TV show, two minor characters will get together in the background, their fairytale romance told in short, two-minute scenes played out in moments between the main plot. Relationships that have none of the conflict and all of the charm - where everything works out and it manages to be the sweetest thing about the show. 'The Christmas High Note,' for the most part, follows this TV trope, but the conflict that your typical romantic comedy formula calls for pulls the viewer right out of it, but with a heartwarming, colorful cast and it's not too long until the film pulls you right back in.
The film's story revolves around a part-time music teacher, part-time vet, Rachel (Jamie Luner), who is sick and tired of her commitment-phobic boyfriend Brad (William McNamara). When he stands her up on their 4-year anniversary, it's the last straw and she dumps him over the phone. In the meantime, town newcomer Sophia (Madline Grace) just got accepted into the Christmas pageant but needs someone to help train her to hit those high notes. A chance meeting brings Sophia and Rachel together and soon after, Rachel starts to fall for Sophia's father, Michael (Johnny Messner).
From the start, Jamie Luner lights up the screen in every scene she's in. She embodies the spirit of the film - small-town charm, holiday friendliness and just the right amount of amusing silliness in her delivery to keep things light and the film moving along at an entertaining pace. She's supported by a great cast of supporting characters who do a lot to make the world of the film feel lived in - from her veterinarian father, Dennis (William Katt) to Michael's bartending sister Emma (Kassandra Clementi) and a number of other characters besides. Their roles may be relatively minor, but they all make their presence felt on screen. The only two weak points in the entire film are its romantic leads - Michael and Brad.
Brad is largely intolerable - an over-the-top egomaniac who won't take no for an answer - but in all fairness, his character is clearly meant to create that impression. It's Johnny Messner whose energy tends to bring the film down somewhat. His performance lacks the energy and personality that everyone else in the cast is bringing to the screen, but Jamie thankfully more than makes up for him. The film's conflict feels contrived, as well, in a way that's tough to swallow but the performances of the rest of the cast manage to keep things engaging.
'The Christmas High Note' is a very enjoyable film with some regrettable weak points. Overall, it's a heartwarming tale of love, of family, and the charm of a small town with a supportive community who just want their loved ones to be happy. Truly, the spirit of giving is alive and well in this Christmas tale.