Guys. GUYS. I was browsin’ through Netflix to find a movie to put on in the background while I unpack from my trip and tidy up my room and I saw some dance/music rom-dram called High Strung, and that formulaic shit is my JAM so I put it on. Guys. GUYS. THIS IS BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THE MOST UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN I’M HALFWAY THROUGH AND THERE ARE ACTUAL TEARS RUNNING DOWN MY FACE IT HAS EVERY TROPE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE AND IT’S GLORIOUS.
BASIC PLOT: shy, talented American blonde ballerina attends a ~~~super exclusive~~~ Arts conservatory in Manhattan (is there even another city in the US?) and is pushed extra hard by her teachers because She’s Just So Talented™. Shy, talented American blonde ballerina is strolling down the subway post-class and hears a broody British modelesque violinist playing for money. Turns out the broody British modelesque violinist is an illegal immigrant with Nothing Left For Him Back Home™ (’what about your family?’ *moody stare* ‘like I said’ *dramatic glance into the Manhattan skyline* ‘nothing’) and the lawyer he’s been paying to get him a green card was swindling him (he kicks a trashcan into a car in front of a swanky office building out of RAGE because that’s what people trying to avoid run-ins with the police do obvi). Blonde Ballerina goes back to the subway the next day and shares a slow-mo stare with Broody Violinist and then OUT OF NOWHERE a gang strolls out of the subway train and starts shit with a crew of painters working on the subway station. Naturally both the gang and the painters are dance crews (!?!?!?!?!?!) who bust out into elaborate aggressive choreo, and Broody Violinist starts playing his violin to their battle music cause why not???? Chaos ensues, Blonde Ballerina gets pushed to the ground, Broody Violinist rushes to help her, his violin gets stolen, and OH NO his grandfather gave it to him so it’s A Big Deal™ and Blonde Ballerina is so distraught so she follows him all determined to help. That’s the set up of the basic plot, now HIGHLIGHTS:
1. The movie literally opens up with the most dramatic, horror-movie-like shot of Broody Violinist playing his violin shirtless in a vast, shadow-drenched bedroom in the early morning light with a voiceover that’s like ‘the music is inside me… and if I don’t play it… it consumes me’. Something to note about Broody Violinist is that he’s barely surviving NY but he lives in a swanky bachelor pad and dresses like a Calvin Klein model.
2. His downstairs neighbor just happens to be the head of the world’s most extra dance crew and he intercepts Broody Violinist one day for NO REASON and forces him to come into his apartment and watch his crew dance like it’s a fucking recital (LITERALLY I SWORE HE WAS HITTING ON HIM BECAUSE IT WAS SO TARGETED AND OUTRAGEOUS BUT NAH HE WAS JUST LIKE ‘HEY STRANGER COME MEET MY FRIENDS AND WATCH US DANCE NOT TAKING NO FOR AN ANSWER LOL HAVE SOME CALAMARI WHILE I WALK YOU THROUGH WHO EVERYONE IS AS THEY DO A SOLO’).
3. Blonde Ballerina’s roommate is the token Comedic Party Girl™ and they are honestly so gay it’s outrageous? Like they constantly walk around holding hands and had a pillow fight within 5 seconds of meeting each other and casually chat while one’s naked in a bubble bath and who the fuck is this movie trying to kid????
4. At one point Blonde Ballerina shows up at Broody Violinist’s apartment (HOW DOES SHE KNOW WHERE HE LIVES??? IDK???) with a violin she borrowed from her school and a flier that’s CONVENIENTLY for a ‘Strings and Dance!’ competition where the winner gets 25K and a full scholarship to the conservatory (i.e. student visa!!!!!!!), but Broody Violinist is Too Ferocious and Independent™ for conservatories and they’re beneath him and his Subway musician ways and Blonde Ballerina is Too Establishment™ to understand. So Blonde Ballerina is REAL UPSET and leaves and calls her girlfriend to cry about this random stranger rejecting her offer during the cab-ride home, and Broody Violinist stares dramatically at his table before realizing his Big Mistake™ and running after her, but NOOOO, the cab pulls away just as he reaches the door!!!! GASP, I’m so sad for these literal strangers acting like they just ended a five year relationship!!!!
5. There’s a straight-up montage where Blonde Ballerina is dancing with her frenemies at bar (what’s a dance movie without a bar scene where everyone inexplicably knows impromptu choreography) and it’s spliced with BROODY VIOLINIST RANDOMLY BOXING. LMAO LIKE THERE HAS BEEN NOT A SINGLE INDICATION THAT HE’S INTO BOXING OR ATHLETIC IN ANY WAY BUT HERE HE IS, TAKING SUPERHUMAN, SHIRTLESS SWINGS AT A PUNCHING BAG IN THE DARK TO THE BEAT OF THE BAR MUSIC THAT HE’S NOWHERE NEAR. I died.
6. Broody Violinist RANDOMLY SHOWS UP as a waiter for an event Blonde Ballerina is attending with an Arrogant Playboy Violinist™ from her conservatory, and I kid you fucking not, they tango. INTENSELY TANGO. BROODY VIOLINIST CAN TANGO. HE CAN BOX, HE CAN TANGO, THE SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR BROODY VIOLINIST, AND THERE’S NO EXPLANATION OUTSIDE OF ‘My grandmother taught me’. So Broody Violinist and Blonde Ballerina tango all ‘frictiony’ (it’s hilar) and Arrogant Playboy Violinist (who’s playing the violin in some kind of performance) starts playing SUPER aggressively because he’s getting jealous that the girl he wouldn’t even call his date is friction Tango-ing with another guy. And then comes the moment where I lost my shit:
7. Arrogant Playboy Violinist™: “You want to settle this outside?”
Broody Violinist: “I’m fine settling it right here.”
Aggressively strides over to the orchestra and grabs a violin and THESE TWO TESTOSTERONE MACHO MORONS HAVE A FUCKING HOMOEROTIC VIOLIN-OFF. SAID VIOLIN-OFF INVOLVES SMACKING EACH OTHER’S BOWS AND AT ONE POINT EVOLVES INTO A LEGIT VIOLIN BOW FENCING MATCH AND IT’S THE FUNNIEST FUCKING THING I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE BECAUSE THEY’RE LIKE SNARLING AND TWO SECONDS FROM MAKING OUT AND IT’S MEANT TO BE SO SERIOUS AND ~~ALPHA MALE~~ OMGGGG. And then naturally the rest of the wait staff is Broody Violinist’s extra ass neighbor and his dance crew so they take over the DJ-ing and start dancing in unison with their serving trays and oh my Gooooood it’s just the most perfectly absurd scene in cinematic history.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I don’t even know how this movie’s going to top itself but so far it’s been the most well-invested hour of my life and I can’t recommend it enough.