Heights

on June 17, 2005 by Annlee Ellingson
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Conforming to an emerging formula, this ensemble drama traces the lives of a handful of New Yorkers over a 24-hour period. Inevitably, these threads of seemingly disparate narratives intertwine and ultimately unravel as each greets the dawn on a different path.

A photographer, Isabel (Elizabeth Banks) shoots weddings to eke out a living after an upbringing of privilege while planning her own nuptials and future with Jonathan (James Marsden), who wields his law degree like a weapon from an office that is modest. Meanwhile, Isabel's mother Diana (Glenn Close), a famous actress with a penchant for Shakespeare, discovers her husband's new lover and begins to reconsider their open marriage. Auditioning for Diana is Alec (Jesse Bradford), on the cusp of his big break, as is Peter (John Light), who has been commissioned to pen a profile about his photographer boyfriend for Vanity Fair.

Based on a play by Amy Fox (yet avoiding staginess by shooting on-location), "Heights" possesses a rich affection for the theatre and so hinges on the performances of its actors. Playing a diva who neither feels nor acts her age, Close, in a casting coup, here portrays a caricature, perhaps, of herself. Juxtaposed against this veteran are the endearingly sweet Banks, who looks as if she could be Close's daughter, and the effectively brooding Marsden, while Bradford, though affable, at moments seems to have not yet escaped the teen thrillers of his oeuvre, and Light has less material to work with. Working with themes of takings risks and averting regret, helmer Chris Terrio's feature film debut offers few surprises -- one readily spots the big twist early on, perhaps because it's so deftly set up -- but ultimately fulfills the expectations of the viewer. Starring Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford and John Light. Directed by Chris Terrio. Written by Amy Fox. Produced by Ismail Merchant and Richard Hawley. An SPC release. Drama. Rated R for language, brief sexuality and nudity. Running time: 93 min

Tags: Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford, John Light, chris Terrio, Amy Fox, Ismail Merchant, Richard Hawley, SPC, Drama, veteran, weddings, photographer, New Yorkers
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