Movie Reviews

“High Strung” is Filled With Beats and Violins

Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Directed by: Michael Damian
Starring: Keenan Kampa, Nicholas Galitzine,
Written by: Michael Damian & Janeen Damian, Jane Seymour

I would definitely say that Michael Damian’s High Strung is a feel good movie for families. Unknown talents were brought to the big screen but it didn’t take away the enjoyability of the film. The actors portrayed such great talent and realism to this film that it will make anyone whether they are passionate about the art of music/ dancing watch this movie. From the beginning, music symbolized unity for people of all different ages and backgrounds. In addition bringing people together as a whole especially when they are dealing with a greater pain that makes them feel as if nothing but music can help them conquer the world.

We follow college freshman Ruby (Keenan Kampa) on her journey of moving from her presumably small and unknown town to the big city. Of course she encounters challenges on the way but she manages to find new friends, a new perspective on things and even a bit of romance in the mix. I couldn’t help but to think of my favorite dance movies from the 90’s and early 2000’s such as Save the Last Dance and Step Up. This film had similar themes to its predecessors with a new ingredient added to the mix.

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From start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat since I couldn’t take my eyes off of the wonderfully choreographed dance moves. I’m not one to give a lot of props to choreographers in movies but for this particular film, Dave Scott really outdid himself with the sequences throughout the film. I liked the fact that they mixed classic style with hip hop. It just further reinstates the theme of unity. I wasn’t expecting to see ballet and hip hop dance numbers somehow form into one dance number. This is something that I haven’t seen in any other dance movies I’ve watched. The majority of the time it’s hip hop.

You won’t only see the non traditional pairing of ballet and hip hop but you also see Nicholas Galatzine’s character Johnnie teaming up with people that neither he nor the audience would expect him to do. I couldn’t help but picture this guy in a Twilight movie because of his dark and brooding handsome aura. However that didn’t stop this guy from really bringing out his character in this movie. Ruby and Johnnie cross paths only to discover their love of music seceding over life struggles.

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One other thing that really stood out in this film was the cinematography. I live in New York City and at this point, I’d say I’m quite used to seeing it in films. Especially in disaster films where the Statue of Liberty’s head is missing and buildings are on fire followed by people screaming and running in the streets. I mean Cloverfield may have been the icing on the cake for me since it had me doing double takes at the sky for at least a week. High Strung captured the city beautifully and it’s the first thing I noticed in the opening credits. For a second I almost forgot that it took place in New York with the absence of the grit and grime. Each shot was wonderfully done as it further enhanced the film’s thematic premise. I haven’t seen anything so beautifully shot since Life of Pi.


This film couldn’t escape the feeling of predictability and it could also be me having seen so many types of these movies to begin with. It did make a point to add it’s own spin to the theme like I mentioned earlier, however the plot overall was something my little 10 year old cousin could predict. There is always a girl that meets a boy, followed by some type of conflict with a competitor (usually they made to not be that likable). After that well, I’m sure you can figure that one out. It also had some cheesy parts to it but that’s something to expect in a movie like this. It’s not meant to be adult themed nor is it a made for TV movie. So with that said, I halfway came in expecting this movie to have cheesy and cliche dialogue that is still good to hear. It keeps pushing the old notion of “knowing what you want and going after it” which will resonate well with younger audiences and even other generations.

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As much as I’ve raved on about the dance numbers and choreography, I’d say that the acting in general in this film was the worst part about this film. I know there are new faces that people have never heard of so I’ll give it some flack but when I heard certain lines I couldn’t help but to cringe. It didn’t help that the line was already cheesy. Now you have a cheesy line added with horrible delivery. With that said, the foreign male heartthrob (Nicholas Galitzine) fit in the better acting category for this movie.


You can’t go into this movie expecting a deep and profound plot. What you can get out of it is enjoyable music and never before seen dance moves. I’m not a dancer nor do I play any instruments but the movie projects its theme very well, since I felt a hint of familiarity. In the end I’m a writer and aspiring actress so I could relate to what a lot of the characters were going through as artists. There are a lot of new faces in this film and I hope to see them progress and go onto other movies. This film is nothing more than a feel good movie without anything too heavy. If you’re in the mood to see something that’ll make you move in your seat and watch the screen in awe, this is that movie for you.

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hr 36 min

Release Date: April 8, 2016. 

  • Acting - 5/10
  • Cinematography - 10/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 6.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Buyability - 8/10
  • Recyclability - 7.5/10
User Review
4 (2 votes)


When a hip hop violinist busking in the New York subway encounters a classical dancer on scholarship at the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts, sparks fly. With the help of a hip hop dance crew they must find a common ground while preparing for a competition that could change their lives forever.


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