Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Matt Davis as Mark
Photo: Walter Thompson/Sony Pictures Classics

Directed by: Chris Terrio.
Produced by: Ismail Merchant & Richard Hawley.
Written by: Amy Fox, based on her stage play.
Director of Photography: Jim Denault.
Edited by: Sloane Klevin.
Music by: Martin Erskine & Ben Butler.
Released by: Sony Pictures Classics.
Country of Origin: USA. 93 min. Rated: R.
With: Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden & Jesse Bradford.

Glenn Close plays Diana, a Juilliard dramatic arts teacher who also is a star rehearsing Lady Macbeth on Broadway. A celebrity determined to stay at the top of her game, she is saddled with an unfaithful husband. Her daughter Isabel, warmly played by Elizabeth Banks, confronts pre-wedding hesitations, a former lover, a prospective suitor, and a golden chance to boost her photography career, while her fiancé Jonathan (James Marsden) holds a secret sexual past, and Alec (Jessie Bradford), an up-and-coming actor, is torn between selling himself on the casting couch or pursuing the bumpier road of an actor’s life. Other characters facing dilemmas of personal and artistic integrity are intertwined to produce what Diana refers to as New York City's "two degrees of separation." Reflecting the labyrinthine of the urban and social landscape they inhabit, all are trying to find their way up and around the manipulative and ruthless maze of life in a city both fulfilling and unforgiving. Cameos by Isabella Rossellini, Eric Bogosian, and George Segal add entertaining support to the mix.

To its slight misfortune, the overall structure of the film comes off as derivative, following a similar format to Magnolia, which examines a day in the life of Los Angeles residents. In contrast, Magnolia achieves a better balance of its disparate story lines. Whether the culprit is a less developed or uneven plot structure or performances that vary in intensity, Heights gets caught between heightening its focus on particular characters and being an ensemble-based story giving all main characters equal weight. Regardless, there remains a compelling uncertainty of the fate of the principal characters. And once again, Close conveys her prowess portraying resilient tiger ladies, exposing Diana's lust, loneliness, and insecurity with an adroit on-and-off game face during her constant attempts at seducing, conquering, and controlling her and others' affairs. Max Rennix, actor & writer based in New York
June 17, 2005



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