A day in the lives of five characters over twenty-four hours on a fall day in New York City. Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), a photographer, is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Jonathan (James Marsden), a lawyer. On the same day, Isabel's mother, the high profile actress & director, Diana Lee (Glenn Close) learns that her husband has a new lover, and begins to re-think life choices and her open marriage. Diana and Isabel's paths cross with Alec (Jesse Bradford), a young actor and with Peter (John Light), a journalist, who is preparing a major story for a leading glossy on a gay photographer, which has unexpected consequences on the other characters.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is something of a case to be made for the establishment of a genre called simply New York. This would accommodate all of Woody Allen's films, of course, and some of Robert Altman's, because the genre allows even those films that aren't actually shot in New York, but which have the same aesthetics and elements. A group of characters whose lives intersect one way or another, triggering change. Of course the most solid contenders are indeed shot in New York, and make use of the city's unique social (and to an extent) characteristics.
Heights is a New York genre film, and its title comes from references in dialogue to youthful days when sitting on a rooftop looking down at the city seemed to reduce problems to the scale of the figures below. In that sense, the physical New York invade the emotional language of the film, and there are other elements that draw on the city.
But for audiences, the most engaging elements are the diverse characters and their intersecting relationships. Amy Fox and Chris Terrio have done a great job of making this structure work without resorting to clunky coincidences - except for one, but all good films are allowed one. The script is well worked, intelligent, and offers the actors great opportunities.
Glenn Close as Diana brims with the confidence her career has given her while teetering on collapse over her husband's infidelities - especially this latest one. Close is always riveting on screen, and her dark haired, powerful character strides across the pages of this story in memorable fashion. Elizabeth Banks also holds our interest as Isabel, as do the men. The film's mood changes gradually as it progresses from comic to dramatic, as it digs into the human condition.
Notably, the screenplay takes us across generations as it canvasses the elements that make these characters tick, keeping our interest with adroit story telling and excellent technicals.
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CAST: Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford
PRODUCER: Ismail Merchant, Richard Hawley
DIRECTOR: Chris Terrio
SCRIPT: Amy Fox (based on her own novel), additional material by Chris Terrio
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jim Denault
EDITOR: Sloane Klevin
MUSIC: Martin Erskine, Ben Butler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marla Weinhoff
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 22, 2005 (Sydney only)
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: March 8, 2006